Frank D. Bean, UCI sociology and economics Chancellor’s professor, is a co-recipient of a $1.34 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Development, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that will be used to compile a new dataset and conduct research on the health of immigrants living in the United States.  The resulting information will be made publicly available for future studies on the effects of immigration and incorporation on health outcomes of immigrants in the United States. 

“Studies of immigrant assimilation in regard to health behaviors and outcomes are currently handicapped by the lack of data on class of admission, adjustment of migration status and timing of naturalization,” says Bean who also directs the UCI Center for Research on Immigration, Population and Public Policy.  Since his days as a doctoral student at Duke University, he has been working extensively to close this gap, receiving his first grant from NIH in 1969.  When his current two-year study is completed in 2010, it will mark the sixth decade in which the veteran professor has received NIH funding for demographic and immigration research. 

Working with him will be Jennifer Van Hook, sociology and demography associate professor at Penn State University and a former doctoral student of Bean’s.

Together, they will link 25 years worth of data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics in the National Health Interview Survey with Office of Immigration Statistics data to produce new information on the health behaviors and outcomes of immigrant Americans living in the United States, as well as native-born Americans. 

The survey contains detailed content on a broad range of topics including rates of heart disease, cancer and depression among survey respondents as well as accessibility of health care and impacts of health related absences on work attendance. The researchers will use data collected within the survey to link responses with corresponding information from the Office of Immigration Statistics which tracks naturalization status and legal permanent residence of immigrants. The resulting dataset will yield new statistics on health outcomes of immigrants in the United States, information which others may also access for further studies on immigrant health. 

“America is uniquely a nation of immigrants – our very nation building is rooted in immigration,” says Bean.  “Understanding the health of our immigrants is integral for the overall well-being of our country.”

Funding for the current project was provided through the NIH Research and Research Infrastructure “Grand Opportunities” (GO) program which is funded by the economic stimulus American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009. The $1.34 million award is being shared between researchers at UC Irvine, Penn State University, and the National Center for Health Statistics.

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