Perceived Discrimination, Intergenerational Family Conflicts, and Depressive Symptoms in Foreign-Born and U.S.-Born Asian American Emerging Adults

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The present study examined a mediation model that hypothesized intergenerational family conflicts would mediate the association between perceived racial discrimination and depressive symptoms among foreign-born and U.S.-born Asian American emerging adults (N = 678) recruited from a large university in the Midwest. The model further hypothesized that the connection between intergenerational family conflicts and depressive symptoms would be stronger for foreign-born individuals than U.S.-born persons. Multigroup structural equation modeling results supported the proposed mediation model. Regardless of nativity status, higher levels of perceived racial discrimination were associated with more occurrences of intergenerational family conflicts with mothers and fathers; conflicts with mothers, in turn, were linked to higher levels of depressive symptoms among Asian American emerging adults. The association between intergenerational family conflicts and depressive symptoms, however, was not greater for the foreign-born than the U.S.-born group. Findings suggest the importance of considering racism as a potential contributing factor to intergenerational conflicts arising in Asian American families and highlight the critical role of conflicts with mothers in cascading the effects of discrimination on young emerging adults’ depressive concerns. The present cross-sectional investigation, however, precludes inference about causality. Directions for future research, including verification of the mediation model through longitudinal data, are discussed.

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