Topic: United States/Hispanic and Latino Americans

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Hispanic Paradox

United States Medicine Sociology United States/Hispanic and Latino Americans

The Hispanic paradox is an epidemiological finding that Hispanic Americans tend to have health outcomes that "paradoxically" are comparable to, or in some cases better than, those of their U.S. non-Hispanic White counterparts, even though Hispanics have lower average income and education. Low socioeconomic status is almost universally associated with worse population health and higher death rates everywhere in the world. The paradox usually refers in particular to low mortality among Hispanics in the United States relative to non-Hispanic Whites. According to the Center for Disease Control's 2015 Vital Signs report, Hispanics in the United States had a 24% lower risk of mortality, as well as lower risk for nine of the fifteen leading causes of death as compared to Whites.

There are multiple hypotheses which aim to determine the reason for the existence of this paradox. Some attribute the Hispanic paradox to biases created by patterns or selection in migration. One such hypothesis is the Salmon Bias, which suggests that Hispanics tend to return home towards the end of their lives, ultimately rendering an individual "statistically immortal" and thus artificially lowering mortality for Hispanics in the United States. Another hypothesis in this group is that of the Healthy Migrant, which attributes the better health of Hispanics to the assumption that the healthiest and strongest members of a population are most likely to migrate.

Other hypotheses around the Hispanic paradox maintain that the phenomenon is real, and is caused by sociocultural factors which characterize the Hispanic population. Many of these factors can be described under the more broad categories of cultural values, interpersonal context, and community context. Some health researchers attribute the Hispanic paradox to different eating habits, especially the relatively high intake of legumes such as beans and lentils.