Ifatunji awarded NIH Diversity Supplement grant to study health and mortality disparities of native- and foreign-born Blacks in the United States

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Mosi Ifatunji


IDS affiliate Mosi Ifatunji was recently awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Diversity Supplement grant to study disparities in the health and mortality of native- and foreign-born Blacks in the United States. Ifatunji, an assistant professor in African American Studies and Sociology, explains that, while Blacks in the United States are often treated as a monolith, the U.S. Black population has become increasingly diverse in recent decades. For example, in 1960, foreign-born Blacks made up less than one percent of the Black population, but by 2019, that number had grown to ten percent.

Despite evidence that disparities in physical health and mortality between native- and foreign-born Blacks are larger than nativity disparities within other racialized populations (1) and that native-born state-to-state migrants are healthier than native-born Black non-migrants (2), Ifatunji writes that we know very little about the relationship between social context and health differences for these groups.

Ifatunji’s study will be the first to study differences in health and mortality among five different U.S. Black populations: 1) native-born Black state-to-state migrants, 2) native-born Black non-migrants, and foreign-born Blacks from either 3) majority Black, 4) majority non-Black, or 5) majority White countries (3). The study may help us better understand health differences stemming from discrimination. There is growing evidence that poorer health among native-born U.S. Blacks is linked to discrimination early in life. There has been little work that has considered the racial context of the origin countries of immigrants. However, there is some evidence that the health status of foreign-born Blacks from countries with majority Black or non-White majority populations is better than that of native-born Blacks or Black immigrants from majority White countries (3).

In addition to assessing disparities in physical health and mortality among the five Black populations in the study, Ifatunji also aims to better understand the role of socioeconomic status and health behaviors in explaining the disparities, and to evaluate how those disparities are connected to racial contexts.

Ifatunji’s study is connected to a larger NIH grant through the UW-Madison Center for Demography of Health and Aging.


  1. Hummer, Robert A., Monique Biegler, Peter B. De Turk, Douglas Forbes, W. Parker Frisbie, Ying Hong and Starling G. Pullum. 1999. “Race/Ethnicity, Nativity, and Infant Mortality in the United States.” Social Forces 77(3):1083-117. doi: https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/10.1093/sf/77.3.1083; Singh, Gopal K. and Robert A. Hiatt. 2006. “Trends and Disparities in Socioeconomic and Behavioural Characteristics, Life Expectancy, and Cause-Specific Mortality of Native-Born and Foreign-Born Populations in the United States, 1979–2003.” International Journal of Epidemiology 35(4):903-19. doi: https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/10.1093/ije/dyl089.
  2. Hamilton, Tod G. 2019. Immigration and the Remaking of Black America. New York, New York: Russell Sage Publications.
  3. Ifatunji, Mosi Adesina, Deshira Wallace, Wendy Lee, and Yanica Faustin. 2022. “Black Nativity and Health Disparities: A Research Paradigm for Understanding the Social Determinants of Health.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19(15):9166. doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19159166.
  4. Read, Jennan Ghazal and Michael O. Emerson. 2005. “Racial Context, Black Immigration and the U.S. Black/White Health Disparity.” Social Forces 84(1):181-199.