U.S. migration and reproductive health among Mexican women: Assessing the evidence for health selectivity
Health selectivity posits that individuals who practice preventive health behaviors are more likely to migrate to the United States, and this has been proposed as one explanation of the Latino Paradox. This paper examines evidence for health selection in the context of reproductive health using national survey data from Mexico (the longitudinal Mexico Family Life Survey [MxFLS], 2002 and 2005 waves) and the United States (the National Survey of Family Growth [NSFG], 2002). We compared sexual behaviors and contraceptive practices of Mexican women residing in Mexico who subsequently migrated to the United States with those who remained in Mexico and with Mexican immigrants in the United States. MxFLS respondents who migrated to the United States had a younger mean age, and a larger proportion had no children compared to MxFLS nonmigrants. Within the MxFLS sample, a smaller proportion of women who migrated had ever had vaginal sex, though this difference was nonsignificant with adjustment for sociodemographic factors. No sexual behavior or contraceptive use measures varied between Mexican migrants and nonmigrants within the MxFLS. The mean lifetime number of sexual partners was lower for MxFLS respondents than for Mexican immigrants in the NSFG. Smaller proportions of MxFLS respondents reported using hormonal methods or condoms relative to NSFG respondents. We found no evidence for health selectivity with regard to sexual behaviors or contraceptive practices, underscoring the importance of continued attention to the factors that influence the adaptation trajectories following U.S. migration.