Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

16316 Acculturation, Family Conflict and Immigrant Children's Psychological Well-Being: A Test of Mediating Effects

Friday, January 13, 2012: 9:00 AM
Burnham (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Yong Li, MSW, Doctoral Assistant, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY
Research on the association between acculturation and various mental health outcomes has been increasing. Of particular relevance for school and family social work are studies that have found that differences between parents' and children's level of acculturation (i.e., intergenerational acculturation discrepancies, or IAD), may negatively influence children's psychological well-being (CPW), but the mechanisms through which IAD operate are not well understood. This study tries to bridge this gap by explicitly examining the indirect effect of IAD on CPW through intergenerational conflict (IC). Two major hypotheses are tested: (i) IC will mediate the effect of IAD on children's depressive symptomatology; (ii) IC will mediate the effect of IAD on children's self-esteem. Finally, the mediating effects are hypothesized to operate similarly for Asian and Hispanic children. Two waves of data from the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS) are used. The original sample (N=5,262) at Wave 1 included mainly second generation children of Hispanic (57.4%) or Asian (31.6%) immigrants. At Wave 2, 4,288 participants were reinterviewed. Standardized instruments are used to measure children's self-esteem (The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale) and depression (4 items from the Center for Epidemiologic Studies--Depression Scale) at both waves. IAD is measured by the difference between the children's and parents' preference for American ways at Wave 1. IC, measured by 4 Likert-type scale items about the parent-child conflict (e.g., “My parents and I often argue because we don't share the same goals), is from Wave 2. Multiple regression models are first established to test the direct and indirect effects of IAD on CPW. Wave 1 demographic characteristics (e.g., gender and ethnicity) and migration-related variables (e.g., children's language acculturation and experienced discrimination) are added as covariates to all the models. CPW at Wave 1 is also controlled in models analyzing Wave 2 outcomes. Results show that IAD is significantly associated with IC, which, in turn, significantly relates to depression and self-esteem, respectively, while controlling for IAD. This indicates that there are indirect effects of IAD on depression and self-esteem through IC. To test the significance of indirect effects, a nonparametric bootstrapping procedure (Preacher & Hayes, 2004) is then employed, indicating that the indirect effects are significant for both depression (95% Confidence Interval=(-0.028, -0.010)) and self-esteem (95% Confidence Interval=(0.009, 0.025)). Finally, IC works as a significant mediator for both Asian and Hispanic children; however, separated regression analyses for two populations indicate that IAD is significantly associated with depression for Hispanic (p=.01) but not Asian children. These findings suggest that IC issues may be a more important area of research and intervention than IAD. This is especially true for the Asian second generation children because IAD does not directly predict depression among this population. For children of immigrants in general, culturally responsive educational programs are needed to assist immigrant parents and their children prevent and cope effectively with the stress associated with family intergenerational conflict.

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