Latino youth's internalising behaviours: Links to immigrant status and neighbourhood characteristics

Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo, Yange Xue, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. Latinos are the fastest-growing immigrant group in the USA. Yet, little is known about the emotional well-being of this population, such as the links among family, neighbourhood context and Latino immigrant youth mental health. Understanding this link will help determine which contexts negatively impact Latino immigrant youth mental health. Design. Drawing data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighbourhoods collected in 1994-1995 and 1997-1999, this study examined links between Latino youth's internalising behaviours, based on the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), and neighbourhood characteristics as a function of immigrant status. The sample included 1040 (aged 9-17) Latino immigrant youth seen twice over three years and identified as first, second or third generation. In this study, neighbourhoods are made up of two to three census tracts that reflect similar racial/ethnic and socioeconomic composition. Using hierarchical linear regression models, the study also explored links between internalising behaviours and neighbourhood characteristics, including concentrated disadvantage, immigrant concentration and residential stability. Results. First-and second-generation youth had higher internalising behaviour scores (i.e., worse mental health) than third-generation youth after controlling for youth internalising behaviours at Wave 1, maternal depression and family characteristics. First-and second-generation youth were more likely to live in high immigrant-concentrated neighbourhoods and first-generation youth were more likely to live in residentially unstable neighbourhoods. Controlling for neighbourhood clusters eliminated the immigrant-generation internalising association. However, second-generation Latino youth living in neighbourhoods with higher residential stability had higher levels of internalising behaviour problems compared to first-and third-generation youth living in similar neighbourhoods. Conclusions. We found that the interaction between immigrant generation and neighbourhood context helps to explain differences observed in the mental health of second-generation immigrant youth, a result that may help other communities in the USA and other countries better understand the factors that contribute to immigrant youth well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-335
Number of pages21
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Latinos
  • immigrant youth
  • internalising behaviours
  • neighbourhoods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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