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Krista M. Perreira, Ph.D., Professor, Social Medicine

Krista M. Perreira is a health economist who studies disparities in health, education, and economic well-being and inter-relationships between family, health and social policy. Focusing on immigrant families, her research combines qualitative and quantitative methodologies to study migration from Latin America and the health and educational consequences of migration and policies affecting immigrant populations. Through community-based and clinical partnerships, she also develops interventions, programs and practices to improve the well-being of immigrant families and their children.

Perreira's ongoing research focuses on immigration and adaptation, the life course of immigrant youth, and migration and health. Her work utilizes qualitative and quantitative data from studies that she has designed (Latino Adolescent Migration, Health, and Adaptation Project, LAMHA; Southern Immigrant Academic Adaptation, SIAA) as well as other sources such as the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. She is an engaged scholar who applies her knowledge of demography and Latino populations to assist schools, local and state government committees, and nonprofit associations in North Carolina. Her work on immigration and adaptation published in Demography and Work and Occupations supports a segmented assimilation perspective showing that the racial-ethnic backgrounds of youth more strongly influence their early labor market participation and educational attainment than immigrant generation. Her research on the life course of immigrant youth shows that first-generation immigrants regardless of ethnic background are at lower risk than their 2nd and 3rd+ generation peers of engaging in risky health behaviors (e.g., delinquency) and poor health outcomes (e.g., overweight or obesity) throughout early, middle, and late adolescence. Finally, her mixed method research on migration and health provides detailed ethnographic insights into how the experiences of migration and acculturation can reshape maternal-child interactions during both early childhood and adolescence. Depression among immigrant mothers, inexperience navigating institutional systems in the US, and social marginalization or discrimination in their school and neighborhood environments can leave the children of immigrants, especially Mexican-origin immigrants, vulnerable to long-term behavioral health problems, a lack of school readiness, and reduced academic motivations.

Perreira will continue her research on migration and health with a focus on collecting and analyzing data for the Hispanic Community of Health Study (HCHS), a study of the cardiovascular health of 16,000 Hispanic adults, and the Hispanic Community Health Study of Latino Youth (SOL-Youth), a study of cardiometabolic risk factors in 1,400 children (ages 8-16) with parents in the HCHS. Perreira has also begun a series of analyses on the use of interviewer-ascribed skin color to identify racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. and Latin America. In these studies, she aims to understand how perceptions of race/ethnicity based on an individual's skin color are associated with discrimination experiences, SES, and health.

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Last Updated: 2020-06-08