Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Noncommunicable disease mortality and life expectancy in immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union: country of origin compared with host country

Jördis Jennifer Ott, Ari M Paltiel & Heiko Becher

Objective

To assess the influence of country of origin effects and of adjustment and selection processes by comparing noncommunicable disease mortality and life expectancy among migrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union (FSU) with noncommunicable disease mortality and life expectancy among Israelis and the population of the Russian Federation.

Methods

Data from 926 870 FSU-immigrants who migrated to Israel between 1990 and 2003 (study cohort) were analysed. Life expectancy was calculated for the study cohort, all Israelis, and the population of the Russian Federation. Age-standardized death rates were calculated for grouped causes of death. FSU immigrants were additionally compared with other Israelis and with inhabitants of the Russian Federation using cause-specific standardized mortality ratios (SMRs).

Findings

Life expectancy at age 15 years in 2000–2003 was 61.0 years for male and 67.0 years for female FSU immigrants to Israel. Age-standardized death rates for FSU immigrants in Israel were similar to those of other Israelis and much lower than those of inhabitants of the Russian Federation. Relative to Israelis, the study cohort had a higher SMR for neoplasms, and particularly for stomach cancer. Mortality from brain cancer was higher when immigrants were compared to the Russian Federation (SMR: 1.71, 95% confidence interval, CI: 1.50–1.94 for males; SMR: 1.77, 95% CI: 1.56–2.02 for females), whereas mortality from stomach cancer was lower among immigrants relative to the Russian Federation (SMR: 0.43, 95% CI: 0.40–0.47 for males; SMR: 0.56, 95% CI: 0.52–0.61 for females). Mortality from external causes was lower among immigrants relative to the population of the Russian Federation (SMR: 0.20, 95% CI: 0.19–0.21 for males; SMR: 0.35, 95% CI: 0.33–0.37 for females) but significantly higher relative to other Israelis (SMR: 1.41, 95% CI: 1.35–1.47 for males; SMR: 1.08, 95% CI: 1.02–1.15).

Conclusion

Noncommunicable disease mortality among FSU immigrants to Israel is lower than in the population of the Russian Federation. Mortality rates in FSU immigrants, particularly from circulatory diseases, have rapidly adjusted and have become similar to those of the destination country. However, immigrants from the FSU have considerably higher mortality than other Israelis from external causes and some noncommunicable diseases such as cancer. Mortality rates in these diaspora migrants show a mixed picture of rapid assimilation together with persistent country of origin effects, as well as the effects of adjustment hardships.

Share