Abstract

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Background

According to the 2006 Census, almost 20% of the Canadian population were foreign-born, a percentage that is projected to reach at least 25% by 2031. Studies based on age-standardized mortality rates (ASMR) have found a healthy immigrant effect, with lower overall rates among immigrants. A duration effect has also been observed—immigrants' mortality advantage lessened as their time in Canada increased.  ASMRs based on the 1991 to 2001 census mortality follow-up study indicate a healthy immigrant effect and a duration effect at the national level for all-cause mortality for both sexes.  However, at the national level, the mortality rate among women from the United States and from Sub-Saharan Africa was similar to that of Canadian-born women.  For the three largest  Census Metropolitan Areas (Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver), a healthy immigrant effect was not observed among women or among most men from the United States or Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Keywords

Age-standardized mortality rate, death rate, longitudinal, record linkage

Findings

In 2006, immigrants made up one-fifth (19.8%) of Canada's population, a percentage that is expected to reach at least 25% by 2031. The health and the health services needs of this large and growing share of the population are not necessarily the same as those of people born in Canada. Research has repeatedly found a "healthy immigrant effect"—immigrants' health is generally better than that of the Canadianborn, although it tends to decline as their years in Canada increase. However, the relationship between immigration and health is complex, especially because the origins of immigrants to Canada are increasingly diverse. Since the 1960s, the major source countries have shifted from European to non-European nations. Consequently, it is important to analyze the healthy immigrant effect by birthplace and period of immigration. [Full Text]

Authors

Edward Ng (1-613-951-5308; edward.ng@statcan.gc.ca) is with the Health Analysis Division at Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0T6.

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