New immigrants from Ukraine make aliya, December 30, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The native-born teenage sons of past immigrants report poorer health and smoke more than those of new immigrants, part of a worrisome “health reversal” found by researchers at the University of Haifa.
The unexpected phenomenon also applied to the daughters of immigrants, who researchers found smoke more than their male counterparts, running counter to the norm.
Prof. Cheryl Zlotnick and Dr. Efrat Shadmi of the university’s nursing school said: “Our research has shown for the first time that the children of immigrants report health that is less good than those born in Israel and even in comparison to immigrant children as well.” These findings refer to teenage boys rather than girls, they said, adding that this age group of young second-generation immigrants had not been studied.
They studied 618 youths aged 15 and 16, 61% of whom were born in Israel to Israeli-born parents and 39% of whom were born to new immigrants or were immigrants themselves. They were all asked to rate their own health. The teenage boys whose parents immigrated ranked their health as the lowest compared to their female counterparts, new immigrants their age and native-born Israelis.
The findings were significant even after various factors were taken into account that could affect their health, such as smoking or physical activity, the Haifa researchers said.
The girls – whether native born, immigrants or born to immigrants – ranked their self confidence as lower than that of the boys. All the girls rated their emotional situations as worse than those of the boys as well.
Fully 29% of the daughters of immigrants smoked, compared to 26.1% of boys who were themselves immigrants, 22.2% native-born Israeli boys and 21.2% who were sons of immigrants. The group found least likely to smoke were native-born Israeli girls (13%).
Sons of new immigrants, even those who arrived 15 years ago, are a higher-risk group for health now and perhaps even worse than their friends, the researchers concluded. “Programs to help immigrant children are not necessarily provided to the Israeli-born children of immigrants. It is important to provide interventions for this group to meet special educational and health needs,” they added.
The Health Ministry declined to comment on the report.