The Role of Immigrant Concentration Within and Beyond Residential Neighborhoods in Adolescent Alcohol Use

Aubrey L. Jackson, Christopher R. Browning, Lauren J. Krivo, Mei Po Kwan, Heather M. Washington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neighborhoods are salient contexts for youth that shape adolescent development partly through informal social controls on their behavior. This research examines how immigrant concentration within and beyond the residential neighborhood influences adolescent alcohol use. Residential neighborhood immigrant concentration may lead to a cohesive, enclave-like community that protects against adolescent alcohol use. But heterogeneity in the immigrant concentrations characterizing the places residents visit as they engage in routine activities outside of the neighborhood where they live may weaken the social control benefits of the social ties and shared cultural orientations present in enclave communities. This study investigates whether the protective influence of residential neighborhood immigrant concentration on adolescent alcohol consumption diminishes when youth live in communities where residents collectively are exposed to areas with more diverse immigrant concentrations. This study tests this contention by analyzing survey and geographic routine activity space data from the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey, and the 2000 census. The sample includes 793 adolescents (48.7 % female, 16.5 % foreign-born Latino, 42.5 % US-born Latino, 11.0 % black, 30 % white/other) between the ages of 12 and 17 who live in 65 neighborhoods in Los Angeles County. Immigrant concentration among these neighborhoods derives primarily from Latin America. The results from multilevel models show that immigrant concentration protects against adolescent alcohol use only when there is low neighborhood-level diversity of exposures to immigrant concentration among the contexts residents visit outside of their residential neighborhood. This research highlights the importance of considering the effects of aggregate exposures to non-home contexts on adolescent wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-34
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Activity space
  • Alcohol use
  • Ethnic enclave
  • Immigrant concentration
  • Neighborhoods
  • Social disorganization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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