Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Perspectives on social inequality, migration, and health: Three essays on Mexico
by Ullmann, Silvia Heidi, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2011, 91; 3481634
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis examines how social inequality and migration influence health in Mexico, a country that is experiencing rapid economic, social, and health transitions. In the first chapter, I investigate socioeconomic differentials in an increasingly important facet of adolescent health, obesity. Three questions are addressed. First, what is the social patterning of obesity among Mexican adolescents? Second, what are the separate and joint associations of maternal and paternal education with adolescent obesity net of household wealth? Third, are there differences in socioeconomic status (SES) gradients among Mexican boys and girls, rural residents and urban residents? I find that household wealth is positively associated with adolescent obesity, whereas the effects of parental education on adolescent obesity risk are mixed.

The second and third chapters make use of recently gathered health data from the Mexican Migration Project. Over the course of the 20th century, Mexico-U.S. migration emerged as an important phenomenon for both countries. Although the health of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. has been well studied, less is known about the health of returned migrants to Mexico. Thus, the objectives of the second chapter are twofold. Relying on health information pertaining to two stages of the life course, I aim to assess disparities in adult health status between male returned migrants and male non-migrants in Mexico, accounting for their potentially different early life health profiles. While I find evidence that returned migrants had more favorable early life health, they have a higher prevalence of heart disease, emotional/psychiatric disorders, obesity, and smoking than non-migrants. In the third chapter I examine the health impacts of having a migrant husband among Mexican women. My analysis makes three important contributions. I investigate how the timing of a husband's migration relative to union formation influences health by distinguishing between three categories of women: women whose husbands migrated to the U.S. after the union began, women whose husbands migrated to the U.S. and returned before the union began, and women whose husbands did not migrate to the U.S. In contrast to earlier work, I examine these questions using a larger sample across 14 communities in five Mexican states. A final contribution is that I explore the impacts of a husband's migration on a wider range of health conditions and behaviors. I find that despite having similar initial health endowments, the wives of migrants have poorer mental health, a higher prevalence of heart disease, and they are more likely to be obese or overweight than the wives of non-migrants.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Goldman, Noreen
Commitee: Massey, Douglas S., Singer, Burton H., Trussell, James
School: Princeton University
Department: Public and International Affairs
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Public health, Public policy, Demography
Keywords: Health, Mexico, Migrants, Migration, Social inequality, Socioeconomic status
Publication Number: 3481634
ISBN: 9781267010490