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Immigrant–Native Differences in Child Health: Does Maternal Education Narrow or Widen the Gap?


  • The authors thank the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) through Grants R01HD36916, R01HD39135, and R01HD40421, as well as a consortium of private foundations for their support of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. The authors also thank the ESRC through Grant RES 000 22 2044 for supporting this project and the ESRC Data Archive for supplying the Millennium Cohort Data.

concerning this article should be addressed to Margot I. Jackson, Brown University Department of Sociology, Box 1916, Providence, RI 02912. Electronic mail may be sent to


Abundant U.S. research documents an “immigrant advantage” in children’s physical health. This article extends consideration to the United Kingdom, permitting examination of a broader group of immigrants from disparate regions of the world and different socioeconomic backgrounds. Drawing on birth cohort data (ages 0–5) from both countries (= 4,139 and = 13,381), the analysis considers whether the children of immigrants have a physical and mental health advantage around the beginning of elementary school, and whether advantage is more pronounced among low-educated populations. Findings indicate that the children of immigrants are not uniformly healthier than those in native-born families. Rather, there is heterogeneity in the immigrant advantage across outcomes, and evidence of both greater advantage and disadvantage among children in low-educated immigrant families.