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When in America, do as the Americans? Exploring the heterogeneity in immigrants unhealthy assimilation

Barbieri, Paolo Nicola (2016): When in America, do as the Americans? Exploring the heterogeneity in immigrants unhealthy assimilation.

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It is a well-established result that immigrants upon their arrival in the United States are in better health condition with respect to their American counterpart and that such advantage erodes over time. In this paper, following Giuntella and Stella (2016), we intend to study if such assimilation might be heterogeneous not only for different arrival cohorts but also for different unhealthy behaviors. To do so we focus on the assimilation of two unhealthy behaviors: binge drinking and cigarette consumption. For binge drinking we show that more recent immigrant cohorts arrive in the US with a higher probability of being binge drinker and experience a faster assimilation in terms of increased consumption of alcohol and an increase in the probability of consuming alcohol over daily guideline. On the contrary smoking assimilation is less pronounced. Both earlier and later arrival cohorts report lower smoking rates, although such health advantage decreases with time spent in the US. These results shows that there is indeed heterogeneity in the assimilation of unhealthy behaviors for American immigrants, which are more at risk of assimilating alcohol consumption rather than smoking habits from natives.

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