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Neighborhood Co-Ethnic Density, Acculturation, and Alcohol Use Among Hispanic Adolescents

posted on 01.12.2020, 00:00 by Amber N Kraft
Many studies have found associations between acculturation and alcohol use among Hispanic adolescents in the US. However, these associations vary by acculturation dimension (i.e. destination culture vs. heritage culture/enculturation) and domain (e.g. behavior, values, identity). In addition, parent-child acculturation gaps, in which parents and children manifest different acculturative responses, are frequently associated with negative adolescent outcomes including alcohol use. Research on acculturation-alcohol use relationships has not yet rigorously examined the role of ecological context. Because acculturation is a process of adaptation to the new cultural environment, the fit between the demands of the ecological setting and the individual’s acculturative response may be a more important predictor of adolescent outcomes than any specific acculturative response alone. The present study analyzed data previously collected as part of the Construyendo Oportunidades Para Adolescentes Latinos (COPAL; Schwartz et al., 2012; Schwartz et al., 2014, Schwartz et al., 2016) to determine whether neighborhood co-ethnic density moderates the relationship between both individual and family-level acculturation processes and adolescent alcohol use. Associations were tested cross-sectionally and longitudinally, and survival analyses were also used to assess alcohol initiation. Contrary to hypotheses, adolescent Hispanic identity predicted higher likelihood of alcohol use in high co-ethnic density neighborhoods. Results for the interaction between parental acculturation and neighborhood co-ethnic density were mixed; In high co-ethnic density neighborhoods, parental Hispanic practices predicted lower odds of alcohol use in longitudinal analyses, but earlier initiation in survival analyses. In high co-ethnic density neighborhoods, parental US practices and values were associated with higher likelihood of adolescent alcohol use. Sample size, along with floor effects for alcohol use measures and ceiling effects for neighborhood co-ethnic density measures, limited the ability to test the interaction between acculturation gaps and neighborhood co-ethnic density (hypotheses nine and ten). In some cases, the moderating effect of neighborhood co-ethnic density varied depending on how the construct was operationalized. This study represents an initial step towards understanding the importance of fit between acculturation processes and the surrounding neighborhood environment. It also introduces methodological strategies for incorporating objective neighborhood-level variables into such analyses. Recommendations for future research are discussed in depth.



Suarez-Balcazar, Yolanda


Roy, Amanda



Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Zinsser, Katherine Zenk, Shannon Schwartz, Seth

Submitted date

December 2020

Thesis type