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BACKGROUND Hispanic immigrants have been found to be more likely to have a disability than US-born populations. Studies have primarily focused on populations aged 60 and older; little is known about immigrant disability at younger ages.

OBJECTIVE Taking a broader perspective, we investigate whether Hispanic immigrants have lower disability rates in midlife; if so, at what ages this health advantage reverses; and the correlates of this pattern.

METHODS Using American Community Survey 2010–2014 data, we estimate age-specific disability prevalence rates by gender, nativity, education, and migration age from age 40 to 80. We also present estimates by six types of disability.

RESULTS Compared to non-Hispanic whites, disability prevalence among foreign-born Mexican women is lower until age 53 (men: 61) and greater after 59 (66). Similar patterns hold for other foreign-born Hispanics. Crossovers are observed in rates of ambulatory, cognitive, independent living, and self-care disability. Evidence of a steeper age– disability gradient among less-educated immigrants is found. Minimal differences are noted by migration age, challenging an acculturation explanation for the crossover.

CONTRIBUTION The paper contributes to a better understanding of immigrant–native disability patterns in the United States. It is the first to systematically document a Hispanic immigrant health advantage in disability that reverses from working to old age. Hispanic immigrants (particularly foreign-born Mexican women), may face steeper risk trajectories, consistent with their greater concentration in low-skill manual occupations. We call for increased scholarly attention to this phenomenon.


This article was originally published in Demographic Research, available at DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2018.39.7.

This open-access work is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Germany (CC BY 3.0 DE), which permits use, reproduction, and distribution in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are given credit (



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