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Age at Immigration and the Incomes of Older Immigrants, 1994–2010

Author(s): O’Neil, Kevin; Tienda, Marta

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Abstract: Objectives. Seniors comprise a growing proportion of new U.S. immigrants. We investigate whether late-age immigrants are disadvantaged in older age relative to those arriving earlier in life, based on income, reliance on public benefits, and access to public medical insurance. We test whether the 1996 welfare reform law altered the relationships between age at immigration and these outcomes. Method. Immigrants aged 65 and older in the 1994–2010 Current Population Surveys were classified by age at immigration. Median and logistic regressions are used to estimate the association between age at immigration and several outcomes and to test whether these associations differ for arrivals before and after welfare reform. Results. Late-age immigration is strongly associated with lower personal income, lower rates of Medicare and Social Security receipt, and higher participation in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Arrival after 1996 is associated with lower rates of SSI, Medicaid, and Medicare receipt. The association between late-age immigration and income is stronger for post-1996 arrivals relative to earlier arrivals, whereas that between late-age immigration and Medicaid is weaker, suggesting that the penalty conferred by late-age immigration grew after reform. Discussion. Late-age immigrants face formidable economic disadvantages exacerbated by exclusion from public benefits, with implications for immigration, health care, and welfare policy.
Publication Date: Mar-2015
Citation: O'Neil, K., & Tienda, M. (2014). Age at immigration and the incomes of older immigrants, 1994-2010. The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences, 70(2), 291-302. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbu075
DOI: doi:10.1093/geronb/gbu075
Pages: 291 - 302
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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