Intergenerational Differences in Smoking Behavior for Mexican-Americans: The Role of Culture and Cohesion

Rachel T. Kimbro, Princeton University

Cigarette smoking and its deleterious effects on health are well-known, as are the racial/ethnic disparities in smoking rates. This paper investigates differences in smoking behavior between first- and second-generation Mexican-Americans, and finds that for adults, first-generation Mexican-Americans have lower odds of smoking than U.S.-born adults, but for adolescents, the relationship is reversed. The difference in smoking prevalence between adult first- and second-generation Mexicans is alleviated somewhat by church attendance and level of disapproval of unhealthy behaviors, indicating that these could be important components of any measure of acculturation, however, holding traditional values, an oft-cited aspect of low acculturation, has no effect. In addition, immigrant parents with low acculturation had teenagers who smoked more than those who had more acculturated parents. The findings suggest that Mexican immigrant teens may have the most trouble adjusting to the U.S. if their parents do not acculturate quickly and this may lead to unhealthy behaviors.

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Presented in Session 11: Acculturation and Health