Family Economic Stress and Academic Well-Being Among Chinese-American Youth: The Influence of Adolescents' Perceptions of Economic Strain

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Abstract

This study examined the pathways by which family economic stress influenced youth's educational outcomes in a sample of 444 Chinese American adolescents (Mages = 13.0, 17.1 years at waves 1 and 2, respectively). Using latent variable structural equation modeling, results across two waves of data, spanning early to late adolescence, demonstrated that the influence of parent report of economic stress on youth academic achievement (i.e., GPA), school engagement, and positive attitudes about education was mediated through youth's perceptions of family economic strain and self-reports of depressive symptoms. These relationships were observed to remain significant after accounting for selection bias using individual fixed-effects models. Finally, youth's perceptions of family economic strain were found to more strongly predict depressive symptoms during later, as compared to earlier, adolescence; all other modeled relationships were equivalent across the two time periods. Implications for expanding theoretical tenets of the Family Economic Stress Model are discussed.

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