The Success in Latino Neighborhoods Project

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The Success in Latino Neighborhoods Project is designed to identify sources of strength and resilience within Latino neighborhoods that can support families, parents, and adolescents as they negotiate normative family and developmental challenges. The major goal of the project is to identify the malleable mechanisms via which living in co-ethnic neighborhoods may support families and youth. In its initial phases the project will focus on Mexican-origin youth and will examine adjustment as a function of the intersection of neighborhoods, families, and individuals.

Funding Source: William T. Grant Foundation

Executive Director:

Graduate Research Assistant:

  • Elizabeth Burleson
  • Michelle Pasco

 

Publications

White, R. M. B., Zeiders, K. H., Knight, G. P., Roosa, M. W., & Tein, J. Y. (2014). Mexican origin youths’ trajectories of perceived peer discrimination from middle childhood to adolescence: Variation by neighborhood ethnic concentration. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43, 1700 – 1714. doi:10.1007/x1964-014-0098-7

Developmentally salient research on perceived peer discrimination among minority youths is limited. Little is known about trajectories of perceived peer discrimination across the developmental period ranging from middle childhood to adolescence. Ethically concentrated neighborhoods are hypothesized to protect minority youths from discrimination, but strong empirical tests are lacking. The first aim of the current study was to estimate trajectories of perceived peer discrimination from middle childhood to adolescence, as youths transitioned from elementary to middle and to high school. The second aim was to examine the relationship between neighborhood ethnic concentration and perceived peer discrimination over time. Using a diverse sample of 749 Mexican origin youths (48.9 % female), a series of growth models revealed that youths born in Mexico, relative to those born in the U.S., perceived higher discrimination in the 5th grade and decreases across time. Youths who had higher averages on neighborhood ethnic concentration (across the developmental period) experienced decreases in perceived peer discrimination over time; those that had lower average neighborhood ethnic concentration levels showed evidence of increasing trajectories. Further, when individuals experienced increases in their own neighborhood ethnic concentration levels (relative to their own cross-time averages), they reported lower levels of perceived peer discrimination. Neighborhood ethnic concentration findings were not explained by the concurrent changes youths were experiencing in school ethnic concentrations. The results support a culturally-informed developmental view of perceived peer discrimination that recognizes variability in co-ethnic neighborhood contexts. The results advance a view of ethnic enclaves as protective from mainstream threats.

 

White, R. M. B., Deardorff, J., Liu, Y., & Gonzales, N. A. (2013). Contextual amplification or attenuation of pubertal timing effects on mental health symptoms among Mexican American boys. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, 692 – 698. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.07.007

Purpose: To examine the role of neighborhood contextual variation in the putative association between pubertal timing and internalizing and externalizing symptoms among Mexican-origin boys.

Methods: In a sample of seventh-grade Mexican-origin boys (N = 353; View the MathML source) we assessed a range of secondary sexual characteristics, internalizing, and externalizing symptoms. Reports on all secondary sexual characteristics were collapsed and age-standardized to represent total pubertal timing. We also distinguished between the timing of physical changes driven by adrenal versus gonadal maturation. Boys' residential addresses were geocoded and American Community Survey data were used to describe neighborhoods along two dimensions: ethnic concentration and socioeconomic disadvantage. Three years later (in 10th grade) we re-assessed internalizing and externalizing symptoms. We examined the moderating influence of neighborhood ethnic concentration and neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage on the prospective associations between puberty timing (total, gonadal, adrenal) and internalizing and externalizing symptoms.

Results: Earlier total pubertal timing predicted increases in externalizing symptoms, but only when Mexican-origin boys lived in neighborhoods low on ethnic concentration. Total timing results for externalizing symptoms were replicated for adrenal timing. Furthermore, early adrenal timing predicted increases in internalizing symptoms, but again, only when boys lived in neighborhoods low on ethnic concentration. No effects were observed for gonadal timing specifically.

Conclusions: Early pubertal timing, especially advanced physical changes initiated and regulated by adrenal maturation, have important implications for Mexican-origin boys' internalizing and externalizing symptoms, but these implications depend on neighborhood characteristics. Ethnically concentrated neighborhoods are protective for early-maturing Mexican-origin boys.

 

White, R. M. B., Deardorff, J., & Gonzales, N. A. (2012). Contextual amplification or attenuation of pubertal timing effects on depressive symptoms among Mexican American girls. Journal of Adolescent Health, 50, 565 – 571. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.10.006

Purpose: To examine the role of neighborhood contextual variation in the putative association between pubertal timing and depressive symptoms among Mexican-origin girls.

Method: Mexican-origin girls (N = 344; x̄age = 10.8 years) self-reported their total pubertal, adrenal, and gonadal events, along with levels of depressive symptoms in the 5th grade. Girls' residential addresses were geocoded into neighborhoods, and census data were obtained to describe neighborhoods along two dimensions: Hispanic cultural context and socioeconomic disadvantage. Two years later, when most of the girls were in the 7th grade, we reassessed the girls regarding depressive symptoms.

Results: Neighborhood Hispanic composition and neighborhood disadvantage were highly positively correlated. Using hierarchical linear modeling, we examined the moderating influence of neighborhood Hispanic composition and neighborhood disadvantage on the prospective associations between pubertal timing (total, gonadal, and adrenal) and depressive symptoms. Neighborhood Hispanic composition moderated the prospective association between total pubertal and gonadal timing and depressive symptoms. Neighborhood disadvantage did not moderate these associations.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that early maturing 5th grade Mexican-origin girls living in non-Hispanic neighborhoods are at the greatest risk for increased depressive symptoms in the 7th grade, even though these neighborhoods tend to be socioeconomically more advantaged. The protective cultural context of largely Hispanic neighborhoods may outweigh the potential amplifying effects of neighborhood disadvantage.

 

White, R. M. B., Burleson, E., & Knight, G. P. (2016). Future prospects for studying ethnic and racial minority youths and families in diverse rural and nonrural contexts. In L. J. Crockett & G. Carlo (Eds.), Rural Ethnic Minority Youth and Families in the United States: Theory, Research, and Applications (pp. 267 – 286). New York: Springer.

This chapter evaluates the scholarship on rural minority youth exemplified in this volume and identifies ways to move the field forward. We argue that to advance the next generation of meaningful scholarship on rural minority youths and families, scholars will need to integrate sophisticated theorizing about ethno-cultural diversity with increasingly sophisticated theorizing about contextual diversity. To facilitate such an integration, we first analyze the volume within a bioecological theoretical perspective, concluding that the theory offers a framework that could be used to facilitate higher levels of synthesis and meaning-making from diverse scholarship on rural minority youths and families. Second, we provide an overview of culturally informed theorizing, which can support sophisticated research designs and hypothesis testing that reflects within- and between-group ethno-cultural diversity. Finally, we present a new conceptual tool, contextually informed theorizing, which we believe can contribute to a more sophisticated view of contexts generally and rural contexts specifically.

White, R. M. B., Knight, G. P., & Roosa, M. W. (2015). Using culturally informed theory to study Mexican American children and families. In Y. M. Caldera & E. W. Lindsey (Eds.), Mexican American Children and Families: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (27 – 43). New York: Routledge.

Offering new insight on Mexican American culture and families, this book provides an interdisciplinary examination of this growing population. Contributors from psychology, education, health, and social science review recent quantitative and qualitative literature on Mexican Americans. Using current theories, the cultural, social, inter- and intra-personal experiences that contribute to the well-being and adjustment of Mexican Americans are examined. As such the book serves as a seminal guide to those interested in moving away from the dominant deficit model that characterizes the majority of the literature. To ensure consistency and accessibility, each chapter features an introduction, literature review, summary, future directions and challenges, policy implications, and references. Contributors review current education and health care policies and research that impact this population with the hope of guiding the development of policies and interventions that support well-being and adjustment.

Presentations

White, R. M. B., Knight, G. P., Jensen, M., Gonzales, N. A., & Tein, J.-Y. (2015, March). Neighborhood Ethnic Concentration and Parent Ethnic Socialization Effects on Mexican-origin Youths’ Ethnic Identity Development. In Community Stressors and Supports in Latino and Latin American Contexts. Paper Presented at the 2015 Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, Philadelphia, PA. 

White, R. M. B., Jensen, M., Gonzales, N. A., Knight, G. P., & Tein, J.-Y. (2015, March). Neighborhood Ethnic Concentration and Substance Use among Mexican origin Adolescents: A Look at the Barrio—Enclave Discrepancy. In A. Guyer & C. Lee (Session Chairs), Empirical Tests of Neighborhoods to Neurons in the Development of Risky Behaviors among Mexican-origin Adolescents. Paper Presented at the 2015 Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

White, R. M. B., Updegraff, K. A., Umaña-Taylor, A. J., Zeiders, K. H., Perez-Brena, N., & Burleson, L. (2014, November). Mexican-origin Youth’s Cultural Trajectories in Community and Family Contexts. In Adolescent Well-being in Diverse Cultural Contexts paper session. Paper presented at the 2014 National Council on Family Relations Annual Conference, Baltimore, MD.