The Effects of Social Networks and Migration on the Health of Mexican Immigrant Mothers and their Children: A Bi-National Case Study

Theresa L. Thompson-Colón, University of Wisconsin at Madison

This paper examines underlying factors in the multiple associations between social networks, social support, and the health status of Mexican immigrant mothers and their children. I analyze and compare bi-national samples of mothers (US N=141; MX N=379) and their children (US N=239; MX N=623) from two immigrant communities in the US, as well as from eight migrant-sending communities in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. Results show that immigrant women had smaller networks, their networks were more spatially dispersed, and their network members visited less frequently compared to the women’s networks in Mexico. Multivariate analyses show that particular networks are associated with better health status both in the US and in Mexico. Evidence does not support, however, the notion that social networks mediate the expected negative effects of social and psychological health-risk conditions on maternal and child health. Migration effects (including self-selection) better explain health disparities between the US and Mexico samples.

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Presented in Poster Session 6: Migration, Urbanization, Neighborhood and Residential Context