9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS04 Europe and Immigration

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Health and Education Building I, 1E9

Mortality and causes of deaths of foreigners in Italy (1997-2002)

The existence of an inverse relationship between social class and mortality rates is a well known and documented phenomenon in scientific literature. Since the mid-eighties of the last century scholars, especially epidemiologists, however, have noted the existence of an advantage with regard to physical and mental health of some groups of immigrants and members of ethnic minorities. This finding has raised some surprise and even some suspicion, for immigrants often belong to socially disadvantaged groups. The phenomenon has been explained in three different ways: as a result of immigrant selectivity (healthy migrant theory), of the returns of migrants in poor health (salmon bias effects), the effect of social and cultural (social buffering effects). Based on two hierarchical datasets of deaths in Italy between 1997 and 2002 (N > 5 milion of deaths, by nationality, sex, age, cause according ICD9, legal or illegal residence, region of residece, data obtained from the National Institute of Statistics of Italy (Istat)), the paper addresses the case of mortality rates and causes of death of immigrants in Italy during the period 1997-2002. Compared to other studies that restrict the analysis to differences between foreigners and natives, the this paper extends the focus to the comparison between migrants and non migrants in emigration countries. The analysis shows that the mortality rates of some immigrant nationalities are lower than those of the Italians and those of non migrants at home. The extent of this advantage, however, varies depending on the causes of death. The advantage is minimum when factors related to context of arrival are at work, as in the case of cancer, trauma, poisoning, violent death. However further research is needed for the understanding of the factors that explain the differences.