Protective Citizenship: Functional Limitations, Welfare Participation and Naturalization among Later Life Immigrants to the U.S.

Zoya Gubernskaya, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)

Using the data from 2008-2010 American Community Survey, this paper investigates the links between health status, public welfare and healthcare program participation and naturalization among later life immigrants in the U.S. The results show that net of the many socio-demographic predictors, having a functional limitation increases the probability of naturalization, but this relationship is mediated by receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and public health insurance. Findings also differ by country of origin. Public health insurance receipt predicts naturalization among older Mexicans, but receiving SSI does not. For older Chinese immigrants, both SSI and public health insurance receipt increase the odds of naturalization. None of these factors is related to naturalization of older Filipino immigrants. The results suggest that the combination of the current immigration, naturalization and welfare policies led to greater emphasize on instrumental functions of citizenship, especially among vulnerable subgroups such as recently arrived older foreign-born.

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Presented in Session 57: Relationships between Migration, Immigration, and Aging