Immigrants Live Longer than Native Born Americans – How Come?

The Health Blog of Time Magazine asks and interesting question – how is it that immigrants live longer that people born in America?

Statistically, those born in America are more likely to be wealthy, better educated and have better access to medical facilities, ergo they should live longer.

Immigrants would be less likely to be well off and well educated and would also have less access to proper medical care, however it is the immigrants and not Americans that are seen to live longer!


It is something called the Healthy Immigrant Effect, which translates to one single factor of difference between those born in the USA and those who emigrate from other countries – Smoking!

It is the fact that the rates of smoking are far lower among Hispanics and immigrant communities when compared with the number of smokers among white American communities.

So if one wanted evidence that smoking is really, awfully bad for you, then here it is – research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that smoking accounts for at least 50% of migrants’ advantage in life expectancy at 50 years among men and at least 70% among women.

The effects of past smoking habits (in the 60’s Americans were the heaviest smoker populations) are being felt now, in the form of cancers and shortened life spans.