Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures

Comparison of Type of Stress Experienced by U.S. Born and Foreign Born Latinx Children

Date Range

2019-10-17 to 2019-10-20

Event Location / Date(s)

2019 NPLA (National Latinx Psychological Association) Conference / Miami, Florida, USA

Presentation Date


Document Type





The current available research on sources of stress with U.S. born and foreign born Latino youth is mixed. Some research suggests that young adult foreign born Latinos had less lifetime and recent stressful life events compared to U.S. born Latinos (Tillman & Weiss, 2009). On the other hand, when considering stress as a result of the acculturation process, studies show that adults born in the United States experience less acculturative stress compared with foreign born Latino adults (Lueck & Wilson, 2011), while other studies find differences in acculturative stress based on acculturation level (Gil, Vega, & Dimas, 1994). Specifically, U.S. born Latinos have been found to have more acculturation conflict at lower levels of acculturation while foreign born Latinos have more acculturation conflict at higher levels in a young male adolescent sample (Gil, Vega, & Dimas, 1994). However, research examining different types of stress (e.g., daily hassles) in the Latinx population is limited with regard to nativity. This study aims to add to this body of research and to test whether or not there are differences in perceived acculturative stress, number of daily hassles, and reports of positive and negative life events between U.S. born and foreign born Latinx children.

The data was derived from 278 middle school children from Miami Dade County. A majority of the participants were U.S. born (62.2%), female (64.4%) with a mean age of 12.19 (SD=1.033). Participants completed questionnaires about their acculturative stress, daily hassles, and life events, whereas the parents completed information about demographics. Groups were selected for comparison based on their nativity (i.e., U.S. born vs. foreign born).

A series of independent samples T-test were utilized for analysis. The results revealed that there was a significant difference in acculturative stress with foreign born Latinos (M=11.548, SD=8.815) reporting higher scores compared to U.S. born Latinos (M=9.337, SD= 7.561); t(254)= -2.078, p=.039. Further analyses revealed that the significant difference came from the immigration-related stress subscale (t(254)=-5.97, p=.000) rather than perceived discrimination subscale (t(254)= -.599, p=.550) of the acculturation stress scale. In addition, there was a significant difference in the number of positive life events, with foreign born Latinx youth (M= 5.04, SD= 3.052) reporting more positive life events than U.S. born (M= 4.19, SD= 2.678) Latinx youth; t(254)=-2.275, p=.024. However, the difference was not significant for negative events nor for daily hassles in these two groups.

By studying different types of stress in the same population of Latinx youth, the results of this study clarify the mixed findings often reported in the literature. Whereas immigrant Latino youth experience more positive life experiences, they also have to grapple with the stress of being in a new country, learning a new language, and leaving their country of origin and its customs behind compared to U.S. born Latino children. Future research should examine how these experiences affect the adjustment of Latinx youth.