Mortality among immigrants in France

The project about “Mortality among immigrants in France” was developed as part of a partnership between INED and the Population Study Center of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). It is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the period 2015-2019. In most of the world’s major immigrant-receiving countries, the mortality of foreign-born persons seems lower than that of the receiving country, whereas one would expect it to be higher due to the disadvantaged socioeconomic profile of this subpopulation. Several hypotheses have been put forward to explain this finding, including the role of health-related migration selection phenomena (individuals who migrate tend to be healthy; migrants in poor health are more likely to return). Furthermore, the methodological difficulties of measuring mortality in this highly mobile population may undermine the estimations obtained thus far.

The project draws on data sources from INSEE (the permanent demographic sample and the longitudinal mortality sample based on the 1999 census) and the CNAV (French national retirement insurance fund) (samples developed especially for this study). The team is currently working on entirely new analyses of differential mortality, focusing on mortality among immigrants receiving a retirement pension from the CNAV in or outside France and mortality among the native-born children of immigrants. The study will enable us to assess the role of observation bias in the paradox of immigrants’ mortality advantage and of health status in determining return migration.

The project is hosted at Penn with Michel Guillot, Professor of Sociology at Penn, as Principal Investigator (PI); I am the site PI at INED. Another Penn sociology professor, Irma Elo, who has studied mortality among Hispanics in the United States, is also part of the team. And we have two post-doctoral researchers: Matthieu Solignac, based at Penn, well versed in the context and the methodological issues of studying migrant populations, and Matthew Wallace, based at INED, who gained considerable expertise through his thesis on mortality among immigrants in England and Wales. We obtained funding for this project from the NIH, the largest public fund for scientific research in the United States, by emphasizing the unique corpus of French data and the broad general scope of our analyses. The combined resources and scientific background of the two partner institutions are a source of synergies and provide an international base and dynamic environment for our research in this rapidly developing field.

Myriam Khlat

On line since June 2017.