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Nativity Differences in Mothers’ Health Behaviors: A Cross-National and Longitudinal Lens

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Publication details

JournalThe Annals of the American Academy of Political & Social Science
DatePublished - Sep 2012
Issue number1
Number of pages218
Pages (from-to)192
Original languageEnglish


Nativity differences in birth outcomes in the United States are well documented, with more favorable outcomes among children of foreign-born parents than those of native-born parents. Using longitudinal data on mothers from the U.S. Fragile Families Study (N~4,000) and the United Kingdom Millennium Cohort Study (N~15,000), we provide a comparative and longitudinal perspective on nativity differences in mothers' health behaviors. First, we ask whether healthier behaviors observed among Hispanic immigrants in the United States extend to foreign-born mothers in the United Kingdom., including South Asian, black African and Caribbean, and East Asian immigrants. Second, we consider the persistence of differences throughout early childhood. The findings demonstrate healthier behaviors among foreign-born mothers in both the United States and the United Kingdom, including both socioeconomically disadvantaged and advantaged mothers. These differences are stable over early childhood, suggesting a “universality” of healthier behaviors among foreign-born mothers—spanning racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups, time, and two different policy contexts.


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