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Journal Article

Unravelling the ‘immigrant health paradox’: ethnic maintenance, discrimination, and health behaviours of the foreign born and their children in England


Publication date



This paper uses data from Understanding Society, a large representative survey of UK with an ethnic minority boost sample, to test the association between ethnic maintenance, discrimination and health behaviours, among both foreign born and UK born ethnic minorities. We model the probability of smoking and alcohol consumption on (a) ethnic maintenance measured as a function of friendship composition, religiosity, and ethnic identity; and (b) exposure to discrimination as evidenced by self-reports of ethnic and racial harassment in public places. We find that even after controlling for other structural inequalities in income, education, and geography, there is a positive association between ethnic and racial harassment and smoking for ethnic minority women. We also find that ethnic minority men and women who report stronger ethnic maintenance are less likely to binge drink. While we find similar results for ethnic minority women and smoking, we find no such relationship for ethnic minority men.

Published in

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

Volume and page numbers

46 , 980 -1001





Drug/Alcohol Abuse, Social Groups, Social Networks, Migration, Ethnic Groups, Health, Social Behaviour, and Race Relations


Open Access; This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.; Special Issue: Ethnic Diversity in the UK: new opportunities and changing constraints


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