The influence of age at migration and length of residence on self-rated health among Swedish immigrants: A cross-sectional study

Teresa Saraiva Leão, Jan Sundquist, Sven Erik Johansson, Kristina Sundquist

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63 Scopus citations


Objective. Increasing global migration has led to profound demographic changes in most industrialised countries. A growing body of research has investigated various health aspects among immigrant groups and found that some immigrant groups have poorer health than the majority population. It has been suggested that poor acculturation in the host country could lie behind the increased risk of worsened health among certain immigrant groups. The aim was to investigate the cross-sectional association between acculturation, measured as age at migration or length of residence, and self-rated health among young immigrants. Design. The simple, random samples of 7137 women and 7415 men aged 16-34 years were based on pooled, independent data collected during the period 1992-1999 obtained from the Swedish Annual Level of Living Survey (SALLS). Logistic regression was applied in the estimation of odds ratios (OR) for poor self-rated health, after accounting for age, sex, socioeconomic status (SES) and social networks. The non-response rate varied between 23.6 and 28.3% in the different immigrant groups. Results. The odds of poor self-rated health increased with increasing age at migration to Sweden among first-generation immigrants. For those who had resided in Sweden less than 15 years the odds of poor self-rated health were significantly increased. In addition, most of the immigrant groups had higher odds of poor self-rated health than the reference group. Conclusions. Health care workers and policy makers need to be aware that immigrants who arrive in the host country at higher ages and/or have lived in the host country for a shorter period of time might need special attention as they are more likely to suffer from poor self-rated health, a valid health status indicator that can be used in population health monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-105
Number of pages13
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Acculturation
  • Migration
  • Self-rated health
  • Survey
  • Sweden


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