Segments in this Video

Kennett Square Mexican Community (04:17)


Newly arrived immigrants are healthier than the average American, but lose that advantage within a generation. Studies by Dr. Steve Larson and a California public health department support this claim. Pennsylvania mushroom farm worker Amador Bernal has never been sick.

Latino Paradox (03:26)

Research shows that immigrant populations have lower psychiatric and physical illness rates. One explanation is that healthier people emigrate. Another suggests strong, cohesive families mitigate stressful conditions. Bernal's family members support each other while adapting to the U.S.

Social Isolation and Accelerating Aging (02:19)

Maintaining close family and community networks is becoming difficult for Americans due to long work hours and commute times. A 1970s study found isolated people at higher risk for disease and death. Immigrant communities should protect against family disintegration.

Kennett Square Community Support (03:22)

Pennsylvania's Quaker town invests in schools and social services. Public health nurse Joan Holliday founded Bridging the Community to connect immigrants and low income residents to resources. The Garage youth center provides tutoring and social opportunities.

Wealth and Health (02:23)

After five years in the U.S., Latino immigrants are more likely to have hypertension, diabetes, or obesity. Discrimination, low paying jobs, and poor housing and education cause people to internalize devaluation, young people begin losing hope.

Financial Struggles (03:19)

As low income immigrants, most of the Bernal family’s income goes to basic expenses. Amador and Bernardita work multiple jobs. Alfredo's grades suffer when he works long hours as a dishwasher. The American Dream eludes most immigrants.

Economic Insecurities and Social Erosion (02:42)

There is less time to teach cultural family values, due to parents’ long working hours. Psychiatric risk among Latino children depends on their arrival age. Research shows depression incidence increases after thirteen years in the U.S.

Project Salud (01:57)

Like half of Americans, mushroom farmworkers get no paid sick days. A Kennett Square social service agency opened a clinic on a farm to screen for obesity related problems.

Becoming Americanized (02:02)

Amador hopes to buy a house someday, but has to build credit. The Bernals are hopeful about the future. Access to education, housing, and community is important for retaining health among immigrants.

Credits: Becoming American (03:14)

Credits: Becoming American

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Becoming American

Part of the Series : Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?
3-Year Streaming Price: $69.95



Recent Mexican immigrants, though generally poorer, tend to be healthier than the average American. But the longer they're here, the worse their relative health becomes. This is known as the "Hispanic Paradox." Is there something about life in America that is harmful to health? Conversely, what is protective about new immigrant communities that we can all learn from? Can community and labor organizing reverse the downward trend?

Length: 31 minutes

Item#: BVL165939

Copyright date: ©2008

Closed Captioned

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