Is the Trump wall bad for your health?

The answer may be ‘yes’. Since immigrants make up a disproportionate share of health care workers–particularly for the elderly–restricting the number of immigrants may lower the quality and increase the cost of health care in the U.S. That is the finding of a recent study by Zallman et al. (2019) in Health Affairs:

Using nationally representative data, we found that in 2017 immigrants accounted for 18.2 percent of health care workers and 23.5 percent of formal and nonformal long-term care sector workers. More than one-quarter (27.5 percent) of direct care workers and 30.3 percent of nursing home housekeeping and maintenance workers were immigrants. Although legal noncitizen immigrants accounted for 5.2 percent of the US population, they made up 9.0 percent of direct care workers. Naturalized citizens, 6.8 percent of the US population, accounted for 13.9 percent of direct care workers. In light of the current and projected shortage of health care and direct care workers, our finding that immigrants fill a disproportionate share of such jobs suggests that policies curtailing immigration will likely compromise the availability of care for elderly and disabled Americans.

The data used to lead to these findings was the Social and Economic Supplement of the 2018 Current Population Survey (CPS).

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