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J Youth Adolesc. 2014 Oct;43(10):1700-14. doi: 10.1007/s10964-014-0098-7. Epub 2014 Feb 1.

Mexican origin youths' trajectories of perceived peer discrimination from middle childhood to adolescence: variation by neighborhood ethnic concentration.

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T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University, PO Box 3701, Tempe, AZ, 85287-3701, USA,


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.

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