The Latino paradox in neighborhood context: the case of asthma and other respiratory conditions

Kathleen A Cagney, Christopher R Browning, Danielle M Wallace
American Journal of Public Health 2007, 97 (5): 919-25

OBJECTIVES: Evidence indicates that foreign-born Latinos have a health advantage compared with US-born persons of the same socioeconomic status. An explanation for this paradox has remained elusive. We examined the extent to which this paradox exists for the prevalence of asthma and other respiratory conditions. We then explored the role of neighborhood social context in understanding any observed advantage. We invoked theories of social organization, collective efficacy, and the urban ethnic enclave.

METHODS: We combined data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods Community Survey with 2 other data sources and used hierarchical generalized linear modeling techniques.

RESULTS: We found a distinctly graded effect for asthma and other breathing problems among foreign-born Latinos, depending on community composition. Foreign-born Latinos embedded in a neighborhood that had a high percentage of foreign-born residents experienced a significantly lower prevalence of asthma and other breathing problems; those in communities that had a low percentage of foreign-born residents had the highest prevalence overall (even when compared with African Americans).

CONCLUSIONS: Foreign-born Latinos have a respiratory health advantage only in enclave-like settings. Contexts such as these may provide the cohesiveness critical for effective prevention.


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