Inequalities in the Social Integration of Immigrant Youth

Elizabeth Vaquera, University of South Florida
Solveig Argeseanu Cunningham, Emory University

Extant research has documented an advantage of immigrant compared to native-born youths in terms of educational outcomes and health. Another important indicator of wellbeing in adolescence is social integration. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we focus on two important social integration indicators: friendship formation and strength. From adolescents' own reports and those of their schoolmates, we examine social ties with peers comparing foreign-born and native-born adolescents. Foreign-born adolescents report fewer friends, are more likely to be friendless, and are less likely to be named as friends by schoolmates. They are also less likely to have their friendships reciprocated. Some of these differences are explained by other disadvantages foreign-born individuals face, including lower socioeconomic status and attendance of less endowed schools. Their better health offers some protection in terms of social integration, but lower acceptance persists.

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Presented in Session 119: Immigration, Ethnicity and Child Development