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Unraveling the Hispanic Health Paradox

Jose Manuel Fernandez, PhD Monica Garcia-Perez Sandra Orozco-Aleman
Journal of Economic Perspectives. January 1, 2023

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In 2019, Hispanics in the US had a life expectancy advantage of 3.0 years and 7.1 years over non-Hispanic Whites and non-Hispanic Blacks, respectively, despite having real-household income values 26 percentage points lower than Non-Hispanic White households. Hispanics appear to have equal or even better health outcomes relative to non-Hispanic Whites across various health measures. This is known as the Hispanic health paradox. This paper underscores the importance of disaggregating Hispanics by ancestry and age profile when discussing the paradox across key health outcomes. It also provides an overview of the leading explanations, such as the salmon bias and the healthy immigrant effect. Further, it highlights the role of healthcare access and usage in this discussion. Ignoring these sources of bias have important consequences for how morbidity and mortality among Hispanics are measured within widely used national datasets.