Research on racial and ethnic identities

van der Does, Tamara and Muna Adem. "Feeling Better with Similar Others? The Role of Social Networks for Improving Immigrant Youths' Mental Health" Research in Progress

This study examines the relationship between friendship networks and mental health. Using the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study in Four European Countries (CILS4EU), we test if friendships with similar others lead to better mental health, mediated by a strong ethnic identity. The results suggest that children of immigrants with many co-ethnic or many immigrant friends have better self-esteem and are less depressed than those with fewer similar friends. Both preference and opportunities for friendships with similar others, such as a diverse classroom, lead to better mental health outcomes, and friendship networks affect mental health only partially through a strong ethnic identity. Children of immigrants, therefore, benefit in many ways from being surrounded in their school or friend group by students who have similar life experiences, regardless of their country of origin. These findings have implications for future research on ethnic identity, intra-group relations, diversity, and mental health outcomes.

van der Does, Tamara and Muna Adem. "Gendered Paths in Identity Development for Children of Immigrants" Published in Emerging Adulthood

This study uses the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study 1991-2006 to examine if young men and women children of immigrants follow different paths in identity formation between early adolescence and young adulthood. Using multinomial logistic regression on multiply imputed data, we find that for both women and men, the number of children of immigrants who identify as American decreases over time while the number who identify as racial or pan-ethnic increases. In contrast to prior studies, we find that between the ages of 14 and 24, men are more likely than women to change identities and to move away from an American identity. Women, on the other hand, tend to keep a racial or pan-ethnic identity from adolescence to adulthood. The results for within-group differences suggest that men with immigrant parents tend to reject their American identity in favor of a racial or pan-ethnic identity, a sign of adversarial outlook and marginalization. This study highlights identification patterns over time for children of immigrants, and the importance of understanding social processes separately for women and men. The implications of these results, especially the effects of discrimination, socio-economic status, and length of residence in the U.S. for identity formation, are discussed.

Contact Information

Santa Fe Institute

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Email: tamara@santafe.edu

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