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Title: Immigration Status and Child Well-Being in the United States
Authors: Gelatt, Julia
Advisors: Massey, Douglas S
Contributors: Sociology Department
Keywords: children
mental health
Subjects: Sociology
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Immigration inflows have changed the face of the US child population. Today, almost one-quarter of children in the United States have at least one immigrant parent, and of those, 5.5 million have at least one undocumented immigrant parent. About 1 million children are themselves undocumented immigrants. In this dissertation, I analyze the implications of parents' and children's immigration status for various dimensions of child well-being. I draw mainly on the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (L.A. FANS), a survey representative of Los Angeles County, which contains direct measures of respondents' immigration status, but also on the National Health Interview Survey and Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, to explore children's health insurance coverage, access to healthcare, physical health, mental health, and academic performance in Latino families. I find that access to health insurance and a usual healthcare provider are severely constrained for children in undocumented immigrant families, that is, for children who are themselves undocumented, but that such children still get annual checkups at rates similar to other children. Some evidence suggests they may receive less thorough care than children in native families. Evidence on the health status of children of undocumented immigrants is mixed. Looking at children's behavioral problems, as a measure of children's mental health, I find that children in all immigrant families show greater overall and internalizing behavioral problems than children in native families. But children in undocumented immigrant families, who are themselves undocumented, show the greatest mental health problems, particularly through externalizing behaviors. Children in all types of immigrant families, regardless of legal status, tend to show superior cognitive skills on letter word identification tests compared to children in native Latino families, but show similar scores to children in native families on applied math tests and reading comprehension tests. Taken together, my findings suggest that children in Latino, undocumented immigrant families in Los Angeles face particular threats to their healthy growth and development, while children in mixed-status families appear to share experiences more with children in legal immigrant families than with children in undocumented immigrant families.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology

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