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Dollar, Nathan T. (2019). Precarious Incorporation: The Role of Work in Migrant Health and Longevity.. Frank, Reanne (Ed.) (pp. 251-273). Bingley, England: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


This chapter proposes that efforts to improve our understanding of factors affecting migrant health and longevity in the United States must consider migrants’ labor market incorporation and the structural conditions under which they work. I use public-use death certificate data to examine whether there is a mortality penalty for foreign-born workers in the secondary sector industries of agriculture and construction. I focus on the decade of the 1990s for two contextual and empirical reasons: (1) the decade was characterized by economic restructuring, restrictive immigration policy, increased migration, and dispersion of migrants to new geographic destinations; and (2) the 1990s is an opportunistic decade because 19 states coded the industry and occupation of the decedent during this time. These numerator mortality data and Census denominator data are used to compare all-cause mortality rates between working-age (16–64 years) US-born and foreign-born agricultural and construction workers, the overall foreign-born population, and foreign-born workers in health care – an industry where the foreign-born tend to work in well-paid occupations that are well-regulated by the state. The results show a clear mortality penalty for foreign-born workers in agriculture and construction compared to the overall foreign-born population and foreign-born healthcare workers. The results also show the mortality penalty for foreign-born secondary sector workers varies by industry. These findings support the argument that bringing work into our analyses is critical to understanding the contextual and structural factors affecting migrant health and survival.


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Series Title

Advances in Medical Sociology


Dollar, Nathan T.