“We Are Family” – Family Identity and Obligation across Contexts: A Comparison of Latino Youth in North Carolina and Southern California

Jenjira Yahirun, University of California, Los Angeles
Krista Perreira, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Andrew Fuligni, University of California, Los Angeles

Social contexts are often ignored as a possible explanation for ethnic group differences in reports of family obligation. One reason is that too often, social scientists rely on the false dichotomy between economic versus cultural explanations as the culprit behind human social behavior. This study adds much needed nuance to the literature on family obligation, caregiving norms and so-called cultural differences among ethnic minority youth and their majority peers by using data from North Carolina and Southern California to investigate how social contexts shape ethnic identities, which in turn influence feelings of future family obligation. The study controls for potential ethnic group differences by examining Latino adolescents only; it also takes into account socioeconomic conditions by controlling for parents’ education and work status. What is left is a rare comparison of the effects of social contexts on family identity and ethnic identity among Latino youth in the United States.

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Presented in Session 134: Latino Family Structure and Economic Well-Being