Associations of acculturation with family and individual wellbeing in Serbian refugee young adults in the United States

Vanja Lazarevic, Angela Wiley, Joseph H. Pleck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Seventy-seven ethnic Serbian refugee young adults (mean age = 23) from Bosnia and Croatia (in die former Yugoslavia) presently living in die United States completed an online survey. Young adults reported their own and their parents' level of acculturation to both Serbian and U.S. cultures. In contrast to most prior studies, acculturation gap was operationalized taking into account the direction of youth-parent discrepancy rather than as absolute value of the difference. Serbian refugee young adults perceive themselves to be more Americanized than their parents. The more acculturated young adults are to the U.S. than their parents, the lower young adults' reports of family and individual well-being. Unlike immigrant youth in most prior studies, Serbian refugee young adults report acculturation to their native culture at the same level as their parents. As a result, as many young adults exhibit higher Serbian acculturation than their parents as show lower Serbian acculturation than their parents. Young adult/parent Serbian acculturation discrepancy is associated with diminished family well-being when young adults have lower Serbian acculturation than their parents, but with increased family well-being when young adults' Serbian acculturation is higher than their parents'. The finding that acculturation gap concerning native culture is differentially linked to family well-being depending on the direction of the youth-parent discrepancy contrasts with prior research, and shows the importance of operationalizing youth-parent acculturation discrepancies as a directional rather than absolute value difference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-236
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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