Volume 50 - Article 7 | Pages 185–204  

Immigrant mortality advantage in the United States during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic

By Eugenio Paglino, Irma T. Elo


Objective: To investigate the mortality impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on US-born and foreign-born populations by race and Hispanic origin in the United States in 2020.

Methods: Death records from the National Center for Health Statistics and population data from CDC WONDER were used to estimate (1) age-standardized all-cause and cause-specific mortality at ages 25+, 25–64, and 65+ in 2017–2019 and 2020 by nativity, race, Hispanic origin, and sex; (2) changes in mortality between these two periods; and (3) the cause-specific contributions to these changes.

Results: Mortality increased in 2020 relative to 2017–2019 for all racial and Hispanic-origin groups. Adjusting for age, mortality increases were larger at ages 25+ among foreign-born males (390 deaths for 100,000 residents) and females (189) than among US-born males (223) and females (144). The large mortality rise among foreign-born Hispanic men (593) contributed to the narrowing of their mortality advantage relative to White men, from 426 to 134. An increase in mortality among both foreign-born and US-born Black males and females increased the Black–White mortality disparities by 318 for males and by 180 for females. Although COVID-19 mortality was the main driver of the increase among foreign-born residents, circulatory diseases and malignant neoplasms also contributed.

Contribution: We show that the COVID-19 pandemic had a greater impact on foreign-born populations than on their US-born counterparts. These findings highlight the need to address the underlying inequalities and unique challenges faced by foreign-born populations.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Evaluating interviewer manipulation in the new round of the Generations and Gender Survey
Volume 43 - Article 50

Contribution of smoking-attributable mortality to life-expectancy differences by marital status among Finnish men and women, 1971-2010
Volume 36 - Article 8

Age patterns of racial/ethnic/nativity differences in disability and physical functioning in the United States
Volume 31 - Article 17

Educational differences in all-cause mortality by marital status: Evidence from Bulgaria, Finland and the United States
Volume 19 - Article 60

Cause-specific contributions to sex differences in adult mortality among whites and African Americans between 1960 and 1995
Volume 13 - Article 19

Cause-specific contributions to black-white differences in male mortality from 1960 to 1995
Special Collection 2 - Article 10

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Two-dimensional contour decomposition: Decomposing mortality differences into initial difference and trend components by age and cause of death
Volume 50 - Article 41    | Keywords: decomposition methods, mortality

International completeness of death registration
Volume 50 - Article 38    | Keywords: data collection, death, mortality, statistics, sustainable development goals, vital registration

Incorporating subjective survival information in mortality and change in health status predictions: A Bayesian approach
Volume 50 - Article 36    | Keywords: Bayesian demography, health, mortality, self report, subjective mortality probabilities

Standardized mean age at death (MADstd): Exploring its potentials as a measure of human longevity
Volume 50 - Article 30    | Keywords: formal demography, life expectancy, mean age at death, mortality, standardization

Differences in mortality before retirement: The role of living arrangements and marital status in Denmark
Volume 50 - Article 20    | Keywords: inequalities, living arrangements, marital status, mortality, retirement