Socioeconomic Status and Current Cigarette Smoking Status: Immigrants’ Diminished Returns

Document Type: Original Article


Department of Family Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, USA


Introduction: Although socioeconomic status (SES) resources influence population and individual health behaviors, socially marginalized groups gain significantly less health from their SES indicators, such as education and income, compared to the socially privileged groups. This pattern is called marginalization-related diminished returns (MDRs). However, most of the MDRs literature is derived from studies that have defined marginalization based on race and ethnicity. As a result, more research is needed on MDRs due to immigration. To extend what is known about MDRs due to immigration, the current study compared a national sample of immigrants and non-immigrants for the effects of education and income on current cigarette smoking of adults in the United States.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional study. The 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) enrolled 14,149 individuals who were either immigrants (n=1977; 14.0%) or non-immigrants (n=12,166; 86.0%). The independent variables (IV) were education and income that were treated as categorical variables. The dependent variable was current cigarette smoking. Age, gender, race, ethnicity, marital status, employment, and region were confounders. Immigration was the moderator. Logistic regression was used for data analysis.
Results: High education and income were associated with lower odds of current cigarette smoking. However, immigration showed significant statistical interactions with both education and income. These interactions were suggestive of smaller protective effects of high education and income on current cigarette smoking for immigrant than non-immigrant adults.
Conclusion: In line with the MDRs, the effects of education and income on tobacco use is weaker for immigrant than non-immigrant adults.