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'Immigrants have Better Health' Reveals Study in Toronto

April 2017, 17
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Study in Toronto
A study conducted in Toronto, Canada has shown that immigrants to Canada are healthier and living longer. Something they describe as a “healthy immigrant effect”.

The study by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and the University of Toronto found that no matter where in the province of Toronto immigrants lived, even poorer areas, the premature death rate were much lower than non-immigrants. Immigrants were 60 percent less likely to die within a set time period studied than longer term residents of the Canadian province and those who were born in Canada.  Long term residents were classed as those who had lived in or moved to the province prior to 1985.

During the period of study from 2002 to 2012, the lower mortality rate for immigrants was 42,700 fewer deaths overall and 18,400 fewer premature deaths. Researcher Laura Rosella was surprised by the clear difference. She is a University of Toronto epidemiologist and the primary author of the research paper which has been published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. During the period 2002 to 2012, there were 934,765 deaths, 19,501 were female immigrants and 20,514 male immigrants. The figures also showed that more immigrants lived in neighborhoods with the lowest socioeconomic conditions in comparison to long-term residents. The results conflicted with the theory that often those immigrants living in poorer economic conditions would die younger. Though it was the case that overall mortality rates were higher in poorer areas. Concluding that immigrants were healthier than other citizens even if they were less financially or emotionally positioned.

The “healthy immigrant effect” has been mostly put down to health checks associated with immigration applications and the refusal of applicants with certain health issues. The study did find that the age of death of immigrants was substantially lower than that of longer term residents of Ontario at six years lower.  Though this may be attributed to many immigrants being younger, whilst population figures for those born in Canada included a more aging population.

There was concern that the higher mortality in female immigrants was connected to health care accessibility and the research will support a drive for more equitable health for the whole population.

A mortality or death rate is calculated as a measure of the number of deaths per 1,000 people during a specific time frame. The studied looked at mortality rates based on immigration and socioeconomic status and was based on population and demographic databases, census results, immigration records, and the Ontario Registrar General’s death files.

Both the City of Toronto and the province of Ontario are popular destinations for immigrants from around the globe. 

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