American University
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posted on 2023-08-03, 16:22 authored by Michael D. Smith

Food security is an essential goal for policy makers around the world. In developing countries, recent increases in migration rates have borne new challenges and opportunities in meeting the goal of eliminating hunger, which have potentially important policy implications in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets. In developed countries, such as the United States, food insecurity remains a persistent obstacle for millions of people to living healthy, active lives. This is especially true for minority groups such as immigrants. This dissertation makes an effort to fill some of the gaps in the literature through theoretical and empirical work linking food security, health, and immigration. I begin by examining food insecurity as a determinant of migration behavior in low- and middle-income countries. Results show food insecurity is an important determinant of both migration intentions and migration decisions. I also find that these relationships vary significantly by gender. Next, I examine the effects of receiving remittances on the food security status of household members in the countries of origin in low- and middle-income countries. Results show, controlling for endogeneity, domestic and international remittances decrease food insecurity. However, the magnitudes are much larger for international remittances than for domestic remittances. Remittances also provide greater protection against food insecurity in lower-income countries than in middle-income countries. Lastly, I examine the effects of food insecurity on the cardiometabolic health and health trajectories of immigrant adults in the United States. Results show food insecurity is strongly associated with poor cardiometabolic health among working-age immigrant adults, and that poor cardiometabolic health increases with the severity of food insecurity. Food insecurity also significantly accelerates the effects of acculturation on poor cardiometabolic health for working-age immigrant adults. Given the recent rise in immigration rates and the broader international policy debate around meeting the food needs of a growing global population, a better understanding of the linkage between food insecurity and immigration is critical for current international policy decisions. Additionally, in the United States, a better understanding of the relationship between food insecurity and health is vital for developing appropriate public health interventions for an increasingly multicultural U.S. population.



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