American Sociological Association

Familism and the Hispanic Health Advantage: The Role of Immigrant Status

It is well known that Hispanic immigrants exhibit better physical and mental health than their U.S.-born counterparts. Scholars theorize that stronger orientations toward the family, also known as familism, could contribute to this immigrant advantage. Yet, little work directly tests whether familial attitudes may be responsible for the favorable health of foreign-born Hispanics. We investigate this possibility using biomarkers, anthropometrics, and mental health assessments from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (N = 4,078). Results demonstrate that the relationship between familial attitudes and health vary depending on the outcome assessed. While Hispanics with strong attitudes toward familial support have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, those who report high referent familism display worse mental health outcomes. We find little evidence that familism is linked to physical health or that immigrant generation moderates the relationship of interest. Our results challenge assumptions that familism is responsible for the comparably better health of foreign-born Hispanics.

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Christina J. Diaz and Michael NiƱo





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