Using pooled origin-destination data from the Puerto Rican Maternal and Infant Health Study, we investigate linkages between migration, social support, and perinatal health. We document differences in social support between three groups of Puerto Rican women: non-migrant women in Puerto Rico, first-generation migrants to the U.S. mainland, and mainland-born women. The role of social support in producing differences in perinatal health outcomes between the groups is assessed. The analysis shows striking differences in social support between island and mainland women, but little systematic variation among mainland women by generation of U.S. residence. The lower level of social support available to mainland women is not reflected in the health outcomes examined, which do not generally worsen with migration to the United States (with the exception of maternal smoking). Nonetheless, we show that social support has important implications for stress, which in turn increases the risk of poor health behavior and compromised infant health.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health