Date of Award

Summer 8-27-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Wilmoth, Janet M.

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


This dissertation focuses on immigrant older adults in the United States and their experiences with late-life disablement. Specifically, this dissertation examines immigrant status differences in late-life disability among immigrants compared to non-immigrants and investigates how life-course timing of immigration shapes late-life disability among immigrant older adults using data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) 2011-2016. Drawing from life course and segmented assimilation theoretical frameworks, this research is guided by two broad research aims: 1) To determine if the immigrant health and mortality advantage extends to late-life disablement, 2) To examine how life-course timing of migration affects late-life disablement for immigrants. Results from Markov transition models show that compared to non-immigrant older adults, immigrants have greater risk of decline and lower risk of recovery from late-life disablement, yet have lower mortality risk. Among immigrant older adults, life-course timing of migration is an important predictor of late-life disability and mortality risk, as immigrants who migrated later-in-life have increased disability risk coupled with lower mortality risk relative to their counterparts who immigrated earlier in life. Moreover, Sullivan based life table calculations indicate longer life expectancies for immigrant older adults compared to their non-immigrant counterparts, but with a smaller proportion of disability-free years. This research highlights key areas where future research and policy makers can work towards reducing health disparities in late-life disablement and mortality for immigrant older adults in the United States.


Open Access

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