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International migration and health: it is time to go beyond conventional theoretical frameworks
  1. Muhammad Zakir Hossin1,2,3
  1. 1Department of Global Public Health, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2Department of Public Health Sciences, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  3. 3Department of General Education, Eastern University Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  1. Correspondence to Muhammad Zakir Hossin; zakir.hossin{at}


The large-scale international migration in the 21st century has emerged as a major threat to the global health equity movement. Not only has the volume of migration substantially increased but also the patterns of migration have become more complex. This paper began by focusing on the drivers of international migration and how health inequalities are linked to migration. Situating migration within the broader structural contexts, the paper calls for using the unharnessed potential of the intersectionality framework to advance immigrant health research. Despite coming from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds and facing disparities in the host society, the immigrants are often paradoxically shown to be healthier than the native population, although this health advantage diminishes over time. Studies on immigrant health, however, are traditionally informed by the acculturation framework which holds the assimilation of unhealthy lifestyles primarily responsible for immigrant health deterioration, diverting the attention away from the structural factors. Although the alternative structural framework came up with the promise to explore the structural factors, it is criticised for an overwhelming focus on access to healthcare and inadequate attention to institutional and societal contexts. However, the heterogeneity of the immigrant population across multiple dimensions of vulnerability demands a novel approach that can bring to the fore both premigratory and postmigratory contextual factors and adequately capture the picture of immigrant health. The paper concludes by questioning the acculturation perspective and pushing the structural paradigm to embrace the intersectionality framework which has the potential to address a wide range of vulnerabilities that intersect to produce health inequalities among the immigrants.

  • public health
  • epidemiology
  • review

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • Contributors MZH is the sole author.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No additional data are available.