Disparities in functional disability among Arab Americans by nativity, immigrant arrival cohort, and country of birth

This study contributes to a growing literature that documents the importance of arrival cohort and country of birth for differentiating the health of U.S. immigrants. We use nationally-representative data from nine years of the American Community Survey (2008-2016) to examine if an immigrant health advantage exists among Arab Americans ages 40+ (n = 49,867) and test if differences among the foreign-born vary by arrival cohort (pre-1991, 1991-2000, and 2001+). Results from multivariate logistic regression models find that foreign-born Arab Americans have higher odds of physical and self-care disability, and this varies by immigrant arrival cohort. The post-2001 cohort had the highest odds of both disabilities, while the earlier two cohorts did not differ from the native-born after adjustments for covariates. Compositional differences in birthplace, particularly the large influx of immigrants from Iraq in the most recent cohort, explained these differences. Political instabilities globally have contributed to a growing number of U.S. immigrants with vulnerabilities that might be overlooked when arrival cohorts are not considered.