Methods: This study is a secondary data analysis (N=871) using data from two resources: the Study of Asian American Families and the 2016 American Community Survey 5-year estimates. Mediation model was conducted using Mplus. Immigrants’ childrearing beliefs toward physical punishment were measured using the Attitudes toward Spanking/Slapping My Child Scale. Community disorganization was measured by economic disadvantage, residential instability, and ethnic heterogeneity. Economic disadvantage was indexed by the percentage of families below the federal poverty line (M = 10.57, SD = 6.96), the percentage of civilian population in the labor force that are unemployed (M = 3.90, SD = 1.26), the percentage of families receiving public assistance (M = 8.00, SD = 4.00), and the percentage of female-headed households (M = 18.00, SD = 7.00). Residential instability was indexed by the percentage of renter-occupied housing (M = 50.97, SD = 20.96) and the percentage of residents who moved in within one year (M = 3.92, SD = 1.63). Ethnic heterogeneity was measured by the percentage of non-Asian residents among the entire population (M = 65.15, SD = 19.89). Asian American parents reported their parenting stress using the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form.
Results: The model fit indices of the mediation model were good with CFI = 0.97, RMSEA = 0.05, WRMR = 1.76. Economic disadvantage directly affected Asian American parents’ beliefs toward physical punishment (Beta= 0.08, p = 0.03). Both economic disadvantage and ethnic heterogeneity indirectly affected Asian American parents’ beliefs toward physical punishment via parenting stress (indirect effects are 0.03 and -0.03, respectively (p=0.001)). Asian American parents living in a community with greater economic disadvantage and less ethnic heterogeneity had more parenting stress, which in turn increased their tendency to use physical punishment towards their children.
Conclusion: We found that Asian American parents living in neighborhoods with higher levels of economic disadvantage showed more positive attitudes toward physical punishment. Ethnic heterogeneity showed positive direct effects but negative indirect effects on Asian Americans’ childrearing beliefs toward physical punishment, which warrants further research. Additionally, parenting stress partially mediated the relationships between economic disadvantage, ethnic heterogeneity, and Asian American parents’ beliefs toward physical punishment. Overall, such findings suggest that both family-level and neighborhood-level practices should be utilized to prevent physical punishment, and further research regarding the influences of neighborhood disorganization on parenting beliefs among Asian Americans is needed.