Migration, Urban Living, and Health in Transitioning Contexts: A Fixed-Effects Analysis of Blood Pressure and Self-reported Health Using Nationally Representative Panel Data From South Africa

Chantel Pheiffer , Brown University
Michael J. White, Brown University

Migration and urbanization are seen as both beneficial and potentially harmful for health, but the jury is still out on the net balance of positive and negative influences. In this paper we examine the relationship between geographic mobility and health, focusing on diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and self-reported health (SRH). We employ fixed effects modelling and nationally representative panel data for South Africa to determine how migration and urbanization predict changes in health. Overall, we find migration to be associated with poorer health, although this depends move type, health outcome, and sex. Men who experience rural-urban and urban-urban moves have higher DBP compared with non-movers, but male urban-urban movers report better SRH. Women who move locally have higher DBP and worse SRH. We argue for the importance of understanding the (gendered) social and demographic determinants of health in general, and non-communicable disease risk in particular, for urbanizing and on-the-move populations.

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 Presented in Session 54. Internal Migration, Health, and Well-being