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Behavioral Functioning Among Mexican-Origin Children: The Roles of Parental Legal Status and the Neighborhood Context

Health and Health Care Concerns Among Women and Racial and Ethnic Minorities

ISBN: 978-1-78743-150-8, eISBN: 978-1-78743-149-2

ISSN: 0275-4959

Publication date: 10 August 2017

Abstract

Research on behavioral functioning among Mexican-origin children primarily uses an individual-centered approach that ignores the residential context. In addition, most studies have been unable to consider an important measure of inequality for this population, legal status; and mental health of children with undocumented parents is underexplored. We address these gaps by investigating the influence of parental legal status and neighborhood characteristics on Mexican-origin children’s behavioral functioning using a multilevel approach.

We use data from the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Study and 2000 decennial census. Our primary focus is variation in internalizing and externalizing behavior problems among Mexican-origin youth (N = 2,535) with mothers who are undocumented, documented or naturalized citizens, or US-born using multilevel models.

The multilevel results show the importance of considering parental legal status. Mexican children of unauthorized mothers are more likely to exhibit internalizing and externalizing problems than all other groups of Mexican children. Furthermore, neighborhood-concentrated disadvantage is significantly associated with internalizing behavior problems, and neighborhood-concentrated affluence is significantly associated with externalizing behavior problems. In short, the results demonstrate the importance of considering both parental legal status and neighborhood contexts for understanding behavior problems of Mexican-origin children.

Our findings suggest that Mexican children’s mental health outcomes – measured by internalizing and externalizing behavior problems – vary significantly by parental legal status and neighborhood contexts. This study provides important nuances for public policy for health care prevention and interventions.

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Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments

We would like to acknowledge assistance from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (R24 HD041025-11). We would also like to acknowledge funding from the NICHD Predoctoral Training Program (T-32HD007514).

Citation

Noah, A.J. and Landale, N.S. (2017), "Behavioral Functioning Among Mexican-Origin Children: The Roles of Parental Legal Status and the Neighborhood Context", Health and Health Care Concerns Among Women and Racial and Ethnic Minorities (Research in the Sociology of Health Care, Vol. 35), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 231-248. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0275-495920170000035012

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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