Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Ph.D., M.P.A.-U.R.P.

Dolores Acevedo-Garcia is Samuel F. and Rose B. Gingold Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, and Director of the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University. From 1998 to 2011, she was a faculty member at the Harvard School of Public Health (1998-2009) and Northeastern University (2009-2011). She received her B.A. in Public Administration from El Colegio de Mexico (Mexico City), and her MPA-URP and Ph.D. in Public Policy with a concentration in Demography from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Research Interests & Projects:

Acevedo-Garcia’s research focuses on the effect of social determinants (for example, residential segregation and the adaptation of immigrants) on racial/ethnic health disparities; the role of non-health policies, such as housing and immigration, in reducing those disparities; and the health and wellbeing of children with special needs.

Her recent professional activities include an invited presentation at the HUD/MacArthur Foundation “How Housing Matters” Conference (November 2011), and a presentation at the White House conference on the Future of Rental Housing Policy (October 2010). She served on two national expert panels convened by the Centers for Disease Control (Housing and Health, and Social Determinants of Health), and on the expert panel for the award-winning PBS documentary series “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making us Sick?” She serves on the Social Science Advisory Board of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, and the National Coalition on School Diversity. She has served on the board of directors for the Fair Housing Center for Greater Boston, and the Committee on the Analysis on Impediments to Fair Housing (Boston Office for Civil Rights).

Acevedo-Garcia served on two national expert panels convened by the Centers for Disease Control on Housing and Health and Social Determinants of Health. She also was a member of the expert panel for the award-winning PBS documentary series “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making us Sick?”

Acevedo-Garcia’s academic research on immigration has focused on understanding the factors that influence immigrant health. She systematically examines differences in immigrant health across the four main racial/ethnic groups by nativity, generation in the U.S., length of residence, and country of origin. Her work has shown that for some health outcomes, such as birth weight, smoking, body mass index, and self-rated health, immigrants to the U.S. tend to have better health outcomes than their U.S. born counterparts, that this immigrant effect is apparent across immigrants of various racial/ethnic groups, and that this health advantage weakens with duration in the U.S. Acevedo-Garcia’s research also indicates that the relationship of socioeconomic status and health differs between immigrants and non-immigrants. Specifically, “socioeconomic gradients” are weaker among immigrants than non-immigrants, meaning that poverty and education attainment is not as strong a predictor of poor health for immigrants. Other topic areas include the ways the tobacco industry targets immigrants, the lack of health insurance among children of immigrant families who are U.S. citizens, the effect of ethnic enclaves on immigrant health, and the impact of remittances on health insurance among Mexican immigrants in the U.S. and their families in Mexico. In 1997, Acevedo-Garcia led a study for the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform entitled “Impact of Federal Welfare Reform on US Immigrants.”

Acevedo-Garcia is Project Director for, a multi-year indicator project on racial/ethnic equity in U.S. metropolitan areas, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In the next three years, diversitydata will be enhanced to make it a more comprehensive database of indicators on child wellbeing, and to incorporate systematic reviews, indicators and case studies on policies that may help improve the lives of vulnerable children and promote child equity. She is also a member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Housing and Families with Children. In addition to support from the Kellogg Foundation, her work has received funding from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health, the American Legacy Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard University David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.

Acevedo-Garcia provided the leadership and guidance that led to the formation of PMH and to the publication of the soon to be released special issue of Social Science & Medicine on Place. Migration and Health.

Contact Information:


Acevedo-Garcia, D., Sanchez-Vaznaugh E., Viruell-Fuentes, E., Almeida, J.. Integrating social epidemiology into immigrant health research: A cross-national framework. Social Science & Medicine, Volume 75, Issue 12, December 2012, Pages 2060-2068

Hacker, K., Chu, J., Leung, C, Marra, R., Pirie, A., Brahimi, M., English, M., Beckmann, J., Acevedo-Garcia, D., and Marlin, R.P. (2011) The impact of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on immigrant health: Perceptions of immigrants in Everett, Massachusetts, USA, Social Science & Medicine 76: 586-594

Acevedo-Garcia, D., Bates, L.M., Osypuk, T.L. (2010). The effect of immigrant generation and duration on self-rated health among US adults 2003-2007. Social Science & Medicine 71: 1161-1172.

Osypuk, T.L. and Acevedo-Garcia, D. (2010). Beyond individual neighborhoods: A geography of opportunity perspective for understanding racial/ethnic health disparities. Health & Place 16: 1113-1123.

Osypuk, T.L., Bates, L.M., and Acevedo-Garcia, D. (2010) Another Mexican Birthweight Paradox? The Role of Residential Enclaves and Neighborhood Poverty in the Birthweight of Mexican-Origin Infants. Social Science & Medicine 70:550-560.

Wolff, L.S., Acevedo-Garcia, D., Subramanian, S., Weber, D., and Kawachi, I. Subjective social status, a new measure in health disparities research: Do race/ethnicity and choice of referent group matter? Journal of Health Psychology. In press.

Dubowitz, T., Bates, L.M., Acevedo-Garcia, D. The Latino Health Paradox – Looking at the intersection of sociology and health. In: Bird, C.E., Ed., Handbook of Medical Sociology. In press.

Osypuk, T.L., Acevedo-Garcia, D. (2010) Support for Smoke-Free Policies: A Nationwide Analysis of Immigrants, US-Born, and Other Demographic Groups, 1995-2002. American Journal of Public Health 100:171-81.

Osypuk, T., Subramanian, S., Kawachi, I., Acevedo-Garcia, D. (2009) Is Workplace Smoking Policy Equally Prevalent and Equally Effective for Immigrants? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 63:784-791.

Sanchez-Vaznaugh, E.V., Kawachi, I., Subramanian, S.V., Sánchez, B.N., Acevedo-Garcia, D. (2009) Do socioeconomic gradients in BMI vary by race/ethnicity, gender and birthplace? American Journal of Epidemiology 69:1102-1112.

Frank, R., Palma Coca, O., Rauda, J., Olaiz, G., Diaz Olavarrieta, C., Acevedo-Garcia, D. (2009) The relationship between U.S. migration, remittances and health care provision in Mexico. American Journal of Public Health 99: 1227-1231.

Sanchez-Vaznaugh, E.V., Kawachi, I., Subramanian, S.V., Sánchez, B.N., Acevedo-Garcia, D. (2008) Differential effect of birthplace and length of residence on body mass index (BMI) by education, gender and race/ethnicity. Social Science & Medicine 67:1300-10.

Garcia, S.G., Becker, D., Martinez de Castro, M., Paz, F., Olavarrieta, C.D., Acevedo-García, D. (2008) Knowledge and opinions of emergency contraceptive pills among female factory workers in Tijuana, Mexico: Insights from a worksite intervention. Studies in Family Planning 39:199-210.

Gupta, J., Acevedo-Garcia, D., Hemenway, D., Decker, M.R., et al. (2008) Premigration exposure to political violence and perpetration of intimate partner violence among immigrant men in Boston. American Journal of Public Health 99:462-9.

Dubowitz, T., Subramanian, S.V., Acevedo-Garcia, D., Osypuk, T.L., et al. (2008) Individual and Neighborhood Differences in Diet Among Low-Income Foreign and U.S.-Born Women. Women's Health Issues 18:181-90.

Acevedo-Garcia, D., Cacari Stone, L. (2008) State Variation in Health Insurance Coverage for U.S. Citizen Children of Immigrants. Health Affairs 27:434-46.

Bates, L.M., Acevedo-Garcia, D, Alegria, M., Krieger, N. (2008) Immigration and generational trends in body mass index and obesity in the United States: results of the National Latino and Asian-American Survey (NLAAS), 2002-2003. American Journal of Public Health 98:70-7.

Acosta, L.M., Acevedo-García, D., Perzanowski, M.S., Mellins, R., et al. (2008) The New York City Puerto Rican Asthma Project: study design, methods, and baseline results. Journal of Asthma 45:51-7.

Acevedo-Garcia, D., Soobader, M-J, Berkman, L.F..(2007) Low birthweight among US Hispanic/Latino subgroups: The effect of maternal foreign-born status and education. Social Science & Medicine 65:2503-16.

Acevedo-Garcia, D., Bates, L.M. (2007) Latino Health Paradoxes: Empirical evidence, explanations, future research, and implications. In: Rodriguez, H., Saenz, R., Menjivar, C., Eds. Latino/as in the United States: Changing the Face of America. New York: Springer. 101-113.

Dubowitz, T., Smith-Warner, S.A., Acevedo-Garcia, D., Subramanian, S.V., et al. (2007) Nativity and Duration of Time in the United States: Differences in Fruit and Vegetable Intake Among Low-Income Postpartum Women. American Journal of Public Health 97:1787-90.

Dubowitz, T., Acevedo-Garcia, D., Salkeld, J., Lindsay, A.C., et al. (2007) Lifecourse, immigrant status and acculturation in food purchasing and preparation among low-income mothers. Public Health Nutrition 10:396-404.

Gold, D.R., Acevedo-Garcia, D. (2005) Immigration to the United States and acculturation as risk factors for asthma and allergy. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 116:38-41.

Acevedo-Garcia, D., Pan, J., Jun, H.-J., Osypuk, T.L., et al. (2005) The effect of immigrant generation on smoking. Social Science & Medicine 61:1223-42.

Acevedo-Garcia, D., Soobader, M.-J., Berkman, L.F. (2005) The differential effect of foreign-born status on low birthweight by race/ethnicity and education. Pediatrics 115:e20-e30.