In Search of an Identity: Ethnic Self-Identification among Children of Immigrants

Paula A. Arriagada, Ohio State University

In an increasingly ethnically diverse society such as the United States, it is important to understand the role that individuals’ ethnic identities play in their lives. One of the main reasons for this is that previous research has found that ethnic identity has a significant influence on outcomes such as depression, self-esteem, academic expectations, and the ability to handle experiences of racism and discrimination (Arellano and Padilla 1996; Portes and MacLeod 1996; Umaña-Taylor 2004). However, not enough is known about the actual determinants of ethnic self-identification, in particular how it changes over time. In this paper, I use data from the 1992 and 1995 waves of the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study to examine different explanations for the ethnic identity choices available to children of immigrants. I focus on cultural maintenance, family processes, and contextual variables, as these factors have not been systematically studied in adaptation and ethnic identification research.

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Presented in Poster Session 6: Migration, Urbanization, Neighborhood and Residential Context