Explaining the Immigrant Paradox: The Influence of Acculturation, Enculturation, and Acculturative Stress on Problematic Alcohol Consumption



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Interdisciplinary Studies

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The present study explored the Immigrant Paradox (IP), generational differences in problematic alcohol use (alcohol consumption and alcohol-related consequences), among immigrants and US born groups from a number of ethnic minority backgrounds. Our approach separates group differences in problematic alcohol consumption in a counterfactual manner for immigrants and the US born to answer the following counterfactual question: “What would problematic alcohol use levels be for the US born had they been exposed to the alcohol use generation (or protective) processes of immigrants and vice versa?” Multidimensional measures of enculturation (involvement with heritage culture), acculturation (involvement with US culture), acculturative stress, and demographic covariates were used to statistically explain these differences. The sample consisted of Asian American (n = 1,153), Black American (n = 833), and Latinx (n = 1,376) college students from 30 universities. Results indicated significant generational differences in mean levels of alcohol consumption but not alcohol-related consequences. Differences in measured characteristics (endowments) marginally explained differences between immigrants and the US born. On the other hand, endowments significantly explained generational differences and represented an increase in alcohol consumption among immigrants if they had the endowments of the U.S. born. Results are discussed in light of cultural and social factors that contribute to the IP.


Behavioral Medicine

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