Beyond Assimilation: Contributions of Sociodemographic Factors and Social Supports to Disparities in Depressive Symptoms Between Immigrant and Native Adolescents

Author(s): Jennifer Braga LEONARDO


This study investigated the contribution of assimilation, sociodemographic factors, and social supports to depressive symptoms in immigrant adolescents, using Waves I and II of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 4,263). Immigrant adolescents reported more risk factors and higher levels of depressive symptoms than native peers. However, generational status ceased to be a correlate of depressive symptoms when sociodemographic variables were controlled. Findings challenge assimilation theories premised on the assumption that immigrants face unique migration-related challenges. Immigrant adolescents are vulnerable due to greater likelihood of increased age, a racial/ethnic minority status, and lower socioeconomic status. They are also at a comparative disadvantage for social supports. Stress and supports were identified as mediators with unique relationships to sociodemographic factors. Assimilation theory, social network theory, and an ecological perspective informed the study.

Tags: United States, Adolescents, Youth, Immigrants, Assimilation, Depression, Sociodemographic factors, Social support

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