Health Across Borders: A Crossnational Comparison of Immigrant Health in Europe

Mara Getz Sheftel, Rachel Margolis, Ashton M. Verdery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The immigrant population in Europe is aging. We examine whether immigrants aged 50 and older in Europe are disadvantaged in terms of multiple health domains, what drives the potential immigrant health disadvantage, and whether such differences are contextually dependent or a general feature of the immigrant experience in Europe. To do this, we use the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to estimate physical, mental, and social health of middle age and older adults by nativity in 19 countries including ~ 176,000 person-years of data. We examine whether nativity-based health disparities can be attributed to demographic composition, socioeconomic factors, family support, and life course timing of migration. Last, we examine regional differences in nativity-based health disparities. We find that immigrants aged 50 and above in Europe are more likely to report fair/poor physical health, score worse on the EURO-D depression scale, and are more likely to be lonely than the native-born. Socioeconomic status and age-at-migration partially explain these health differences, although immigrant health disparities remain after accounting for these and other factors. We document contextual variation within Europe. Immigrants in Eastern, Western and Northern Europe are disadvantaged compared to native-born adults in those regions, while immigrants in Southern Europe are in comparable health to their native-born peers. This article offers new insights into the ways that aging immigrant populations will reshape older adult health profiles throughout Europe. Our empirical evidence informs policy makers, ensuring health systems adapt to support the needs of an increasingly diverse older adult population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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