Peer friendship networks and immigrant mental health: Evidence of Segmented Assimilation Theory


Niño, Michael & Cai, Tianji (2012). Peer friendship networks and immigrant mental health: Evidence of Segmented Assimilation Theory. 2012 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


This paper examines the relationship between adolescent friendship networks and depressive symptoms among immigrant adolescents. Using segmented assimilation theory, two hypotheses were derived: (1) that racially and ethnically homogeneous immigrant peer networks enable immigrant youth to have lower levels of depressive symptoms when compared to their native born counterparts, and (2) that adolescent immigrants who follow a more traditional form of assimilation by integrating into more heterogeneous networks can also decrease the likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms. Key findings indicate that first generation immigrants, who are integrated into more racially and ethnically homogenous networks, are less likely to experience depressive symptoms, providing evidence of successful selective assimilation among first generation immigrants. Adolescent immigrants integrated into homogenous friendship networks can also protect against deteriorating mental health outcomes. For first generation immigrants, a close reciprocated friend and the number of received nomination significantly decrease the likelihood of depressive symptoms. These results indicate adolescent immigrants who adhere to a more straight-line form of assimilation are also protected against heightened levels of depression. Overall results provide sufficient evidence for segmented assimilation.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2012 Add Health Users Conference


Niño, Michael
Cai, Tianji

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID