Why are first generation Hispanics healthier?

Hispanic Americans experience lower rates of certain health issues compared to non-Hispanic whites, sometimes referred to as the “Hispanic paradox.”  The better performance in some key diseases appears to be present in first generation but not later generations.

Hispanic immigrants have lower all-cause, heart disease and cancer mortality compared to US-born non-Hispanic whites. However, US-born Hispanics had similar or worse mortality rates. The age-adjusted death rate for heart disease is about 30% lower.

Among low-income Hispanic subgroups in New York City, being foreign-born is associated with lower prevalence of multiple chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes. Hispanic patients have 13-30% lower diagnosis rates for five common cancers compared to non-Hispanic whites.

These better rates appear to disappear in second and later generations. Why? One explanation is diet – later generations eat more processed food. Also proposed is that the first generation has closer community and family ties, which presumably keep people healthy,  First generation Hispanics smoke less.  There is a proposal that those who immigration are self-selected relatively tougher, fitter.

The best analysis of the generation discrepancy is here.

Vulnerability of climate change: The Sahel

The Sahel, broadly defined, is an expense of whole countries and portions of countries south of North Africa, extending from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea, from Senegal to Eritrea but also bordering parts of Nigeria, Algeria, Central African Republic and other countries.  Some 150 million persons live there. The countries have some of the highest birth rates in the world, some exceeding 5 children per woman.

One center says that “the temperature of the Sahel will increase by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by 2050 and possibly 8 degrees Celsius by 2100. Rainfall will decrease and become more erratic. Agricultural production will decrease from anywhere between 13 percent in Burkina Faso to almost 50 percent in Sudan.

The entire sweep of countries are among the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change,  measured in degree of exposure to harm in food, water, health, ecosystem service, human habitat, and infrastructure, and degree to their incapacity to adapt to change. Go here for Notre Dame’ ranking of countries,

A Migration Policy Institute report of November 2022 says that most people severely affected by climate change will be immobile, either choosing to stay or forced to do so. In Burkina Faso, for example, people living in better environmental conditions are more likely to migrate, in part because severe rainfall deficits and bad harvests can make it harder for people in other areas to gather the resources needed to move internationally.  In a 2021 survey of West African migrants conducted in Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, Niger, Sudan, and Tunisia, 86 percent shared that they had left their countries of origin because of economic reasons and only 2 percent cited natural disasters or environmental reasons. However, when asked if environmental issues were a factor in their decision to leave, 41 percent agreed.


Climate stresses in Pakistan

Extreme weather is adversely affecting 15% of the population. Some two million are expected to internally migrate by 2050.

The ten countries with the greatest long-term climate risk or in descending order Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Haiti, Philippines, Pakistan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand, Nepal, and Dominica. This posting deals with Pakistan.

Heat: “in Jacobabad, Sindh Province, Pakistan, temperatures surpassed a threshold that was “too hot for human tolerance”. The thermometer read over 52 degrees C (126 degrees F) with humidity. Experts note that if this temperature persists for more than a few hours, it could result in organ failure or even death. This milestone was reached far sooner than scientists and climate models had predicted. Jacobabad is one of two cities known to have crossed this threshold. Additionally, their research indicates that “this region of Pakistan along the Indus Valley is believed to be particularly vulnerable to climate change”, causing temperatures to rise even further in the near future.” (Go here.)

“Jacobabad, home to some 300,000 people, is one of two cities on Earth that researchers say recently passed heat and humidity thresholds above what the human body can tolerate. (The other is Ras al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates.)” (Go here.)

Glacier melt: “Melting glaciers “are the biggest economic, human and national-security threat Pakistan will ever face,” said climate policy consultant Dawar Butt. Individuals residing in the northern region of Pakistan have noticed the glaciated margin pulling back further each year, part of the larger Himalayan and Karakoram glacial range that is in rapid retreat causing disasters throughout Pakistan, India, and Nepal.” (Go here.)

Rain: “By late August, writhing under a monsoon on steroids that was almost certainly exacerbated by climate change, a third of a country typically preoccupied with water shortages was drowning. Nearly 33 million people—one in seven Pakistanis—have been affected, with nearly eight million displaced. More than two thousand are dead, initially from rain-related accidents, then from waterborne diseases such as malaria and typhoid; the toll continues to climb. Pakistan has flooded before (the riverine floods of 2010, which ultimately killed nearly two thousand, were described as once-in-a-century), but it has never flooded at this scale, and never in so many ways at once.” (Go here.)

“From mid-June until the end of August 2022, large parts of Pakistan experienced record-breaking monsoonal rainfall, leading to large parts of the country being flooded. Pakistan is reported to have received more than 3 times its usual rainfall in August, making it the wettest August since 1961. The two southern provinces, Sindh and Balochistan, each experienced their wettest August ever recorded, receiving 7 and 8 times their usual monthly totals. The Indus river, that runs the length of the country, burst its banks across thousands of square kilometres, while the intense rainfall also led to urban flash floods, landslides.” (Go here.)

The historic irrigation system, up to 5,000 years old, is overwhelmed. “Pakistan’s overbuilt irrigation system is also a cause of chaos during disasters. In mid-September 2022, residents of villages near the town of Pangrio in southern Sindh, east of the Indus Delta, waited for word from authorities on whether or not to evacuate. Rain had not yet wrought extensive damage on their lands, but as the irrigation and drainage structures heaved to contain water—from upstream, from the western hill torrents, and from continued rains—news arrived of a sudden breach in the Left Bank Outfall Drain (another World Bank–funded project, intended to address waterlogging and salinity issues in upper Sindh). The breach brought the residents out of their homes, and they fled within hours. Leela Ram Kolhi, a local organizer, sent me a video of young villagers, water up to their calves, pushing an elderly man on a makeshift raft made from an upturned charpoy, buoyed by plastic water containers. (Go here.)

Climate change migration

Climate – related migration is easier to conjecture than to document.  One 2019 article from Brookings wrestles with the speculative nature of the subject. Last month, in August 2022, Nomad Century was published, possibly the first trade book on climate change migration.

Most of climate change migration will appear as internal migration. The dominant pattern, I expect, will be gradual, not sudden, change in location within  country guided by work opportunity, family and community chains, and governmental aid.  I doubt there will be no such thing as large scale formal international climate refugee programs. Wholesale movements of communities over short periods of time will be rare. 

The following is from the World Bank, on climate-related migration, which will be mostly internal within countries. This is from a 2018 forecast.

By 2050 as many as 216 million people could be internal climate migrants in major world regions; this represents almost 3% of these regions’ total projected population. Sub-Saharan Africa could see as many as 85.7 million internal climate migrants or 4.2% of the total population. East Asia and the Pacific: 48.4 million or 2.5% of the total population. South Asia: 40.5 million or 1.8% of the total population. North Africa: 19.3 million or 9% of the total population. Latin America: 17.1 million or 2.6% of the total population. Eastern Europe and Central Asia: 15.1 million or 2.3%

They will migrate from areas with lower water availability and crop productivity and from areas affected by sea-level rise and storm surges. Hotspots of internal climate migration could emerge as early as 2030 and continue to spread and intensify by 2050. The reports also finds that rapid and concerted action to reduce global emissions, and support green, inclusive, and resilient development, could significantly reduce the scale of internal climate migration. The World Bank. Here and here.

Human Trafficking

Migration, both internal and to another country, legally and otherwise,is a key vulnerability for human trafficking because migrants so often fall outside of the full legal protections of their countries of origin, countries of transit, and countries of destination. Those victimized by human traffickers in the United States are disproportionately from Latin America – most frequently from Mexico. (From Polaris

The United Nations keeps track of human trafficking. Only about 25,000 cases are formally reported worldwide, a figure greatly influenced by government law enforcement practices. There is much intra-state and neighboring country trafficking. For instance, most of the cases identified by law enforcement in Africa involved activity in sub-Saharan Africa, not transport to other continents.

There are large variations in trafficking experience, the data influenced by variations in law enforcement and reporting practices. Abduction of women and girls for sexual slavery has been reported in many conflicts in Central and West Africa, as well as in the conflicts in the Middle East. It has also been reported that women and girls are trafficked for forced marriage in the same areas.

Recruitment of children for use as armed combatants is widely documented in many of the conflict areas considered: from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Central African Republic, as well as in conflicts in the Middle East and other parts of Asia. Armed groups recruit children for exploitation in forced labour in various supportive roles, from logistics to catering. Recruitment and exploitation of children in extractive industries have been reported conflicts in sub- Saharan Africa, in some cases for the purpose of financing the activities of armed groups.

Within conflict zones, armed groups may make use of trafficking as a strategy to assert territorial dominance. They can spread fear of being trafficked among groups in the territories where they operate to keep the local population under control. They may also use women and girls as ‘sex slaves’ or force them into marriages to appeal to new potential male recruits.

See the U.N. Protocols 

Meatpacking plants update

“As of June 9, there have been at least 24,000 reported positive cases tied to meatpacking facilities in at least 232 plants in 33 states, and at least 86 reported worker deaths at 38 plants in 23 states.” Tyson Foods among meatpacking companies reported by far the greatest number of cases. (From here.)

A May news article said that immigrants make up nearly 40% of the meatpacking (or meatprocessing) industry’s 470,000 workers with higher concentrations in states like South Dakota, where they are 58% of workers and Nebraska, where they are 66%,. Estimates on illegal immigrants very from 14% to the majority in some plants.

Meatpacking is one of the top concerns in the country for occupational safety.

A Southern Poverty Law Center report in 2013 focused on the speed of the production line: “An overwhelming majority of workers surveyed, 78 percent, asserted that “line speed makes them feel less safe, makes their work more painful and causes more injuries.”

The GAO concluded a 2017 report on meatpacking plants that “worker safety and health problems persist and improvements are needed in identifying worker concerns, strengthening federal collaboration, and protecting workers from certain chemicals. Workers we spoke with reported they are reluctant to report injuries, illnesses, and hazards because they fear losing their jobs. There is a mismatch between concerns we heard from workers and the problems reported by OSHA, particularly in the area of bathroom access.”

CDC’s report on meat processing plants

The Centers for Disease Control reports on meat processing plants:  Sociocultural and economic challenges to COVID-19 prevention in meat and poultry processing facilities include accommodating the needs of workers from diverse backgrounds who speak different primary languages; one facility reported a workforce with 40 primary languages.

Some employees were incentivized to work while ill as a result of medical leave and disability policies and attendance bonuses that could encourage working while experiencing symptoms [i.e. no sick leave – PFR]. Finally, many workers live in crowded, multigenerational settings and sometimes share transportation to and from work, contributing to increased risk for transmission of COVID-19 outside the facility itself. Changing transportation to and from the facilities to increase the number of vehicles and reduce the number of passengers per vehicle helped maintain physical distancing in some facilities.

In early April, CDC was alerted to COVID-19 cases among workers in several meat and poultry processing facilities and responded to state and local authorities’ requests for on-site or remote technical assistance.

By April 27, CDC had received aggregate data on COVID-19 cases from 19 of 23 states reporting at least one case related to this industry; there were 115 meat or poultry processing facilities with COVID-19 cases, including 4,913 workers with diagnosed COVID-19. Among 17 states reporting the number of workers in their affected facilities, 3.0% of 130,578 workers received diagnoses of COVID-19. Twenty COVID-19–related deaths were reported among workers.

Facility challenges included structural and operational practices that made it difficult to maintain a 6-foot (2-meter) distance while working, especially on production lines, and in nonproduction settings during breaks and while entering and exiting facilities. The pace and physical demands of processing work made adherence to face covering recommendations difficult, with some workers observed covering only their mouths and frequently readjusting their face coverings while working. Some sites were also observed to have difficulty adhering to the heightened cleaning and disinfection guidance recommended for all worksites to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

From here.

Global migration and disease spreading

From an Indian report just published: If someone looks into the history of pandemics then they will see that in most cases explorations, conquest, commerce and migrations have paved the way for the development of networks that resulted in the spread of pandemics in different parts of the world.

The small pox, plague, yellow fever, cholera, Russian flu, Asian flu, Swine flu, Syphilis, HIV in most cases spread at first in different parts of the world with various kinds of migrants and mobile traders, missionaries, ship crew, army troops and rich planters. The locally settled, immobile or less mobile or mobile people in inter or intra state appears as ‘passive innocent recipient’ of these pandemics and became ‘compelled carrier’ of these diseases.

In the case of Corona affluent, frequent flyers, business entrepreneurs, travelers, those who are studying or working abroad, singers, players of international tournaments have emerged as first carriers of this virus. It has also circulated in India through skilled or semi-skilled lower middle class or middle-class Indian migrants working in Middle East but Corona may have brought even in Middle Eastern countries by its affluent and mobile sections who may have been frequent flyers themselves.

In the second century BC, ‘Antonine plague ‘, which circulated in Rome, it is said came with the army troops who returned from Middle East after a war. The ‘Justinian plague’ also reached Constantinople around 541 AD with grain ships from China travelling via African and Egypt. It spread through the crew, merchants, ship managers, soldiers and workers. Some historians believe that the 1871 Plague which was recognized as the ‘Indian Plague’ all over the world in fact did not originate in Bengal but reached Bengal with the Irish army and travelled to various parts of Bengal and also other parts of India with army troops and traders.

Badri Narayan Tiwari, In Borders and Epidemic: COVID 19 and migrant workers

Update on meat processing, COVID-19 and immigrant workers

Why did the Trump administration invoke the Defense Production Act on April 28 to keep meat processing plants open? Answer: in order to shield the plant owners from liability suits, including from employees, very many of whom are immigrants. I posted about this on April 20 here.

The Wall Street Journal reported that “White House officials said that they feared as much as 80% of the industry’s processing capacity could have been shut down without action from the administration.”

Michael Duff, a professor at Wyoming University’s College of Law and a blogger on employee rights, cites the pertinent court decisions which affirm the law’s ability to remove threats of tort actions.

The virus is shutting down meat processing plants

The pandemic is sweeping through the nation’s meat processing industry. Infected workers have been reported in South Dakots, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Kansas, Colorado, Georgia, Texas, Washington, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. A major share of the country’s poultry, beef and pork product production is shutting down.

Meat processing workers, half or more of whom are foreign-born, work side by side. Labor advocates say that they have not seen any plant undertake as yet safe practices related to the pandemic.

I have followed the situation in Iowa, there the apparently first verified case of an infected meat processing worker showed up three weeks ago in Marshalltown, where a JBS (formerly Swift) plant employs about 2,000 persons. As of today. JBS has shut down plants in Minnesota, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Smithfield has shut down plants in at least South Dakota, Missouri and Wisconsin.

The first plant in Iowa to shut down was Tyson’s plant in Columbus Junction, where over one hundred workers were diagnosed with the virus and two died.

I spoke with several people in Iowa, including Mark Cooper, Rafael Morataya and Joe Enriquez Henry, president of the Des Moines chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Within 250 miles of Des Moines are plants that produce 70% of the country’s pork products. Henry estimates that three quarters of the workers in these plants are foreign born. Most are from Latin America, but they also include Africans and Asians.

Henry says that OHSA did not respond to three letters, the first one sent three weeks ago. A letter signed by 66 organizations was sent to Governor Kim Reynolds on April 15.

Henry estimates that three or four Iowa plants were closed as of April 20. He says that safety protections are straightforward – space the workers out, and slow down the pace to enable workers to work eight hours with masks on.



Photo: Earl Dotter