Stability and Change in Ethnic Labeling among Adolescents from Asian and Latin American Immigrant Families

  • Andrew J. Fuligni UCLA
  • Melissa Witkow
  • Lisa Kiang
  • Oscar Baldelomar UCLA


An important question for the acculturation of adolescents from immigrant families is whether they retain ethnic labels that refer to their national origin (e.g., Mexican, Chinese) or move toward the adoption of labels that are dominant in American society (e.g., Latino, Asian American, American). Approximately 380 adolescents from Asian and Latin American immigrant families selected ethnic labels each year during the four years of high school. Results indicated no normative developmental trend either toward or away from the inclusion of pan-ethnic or American terms in adolescents’ ethnic labels. Significant numbers of adolescents changed their ethnic labels from year to year, however, and these changes were linked with changes in adolescents’ closeness with their parents, strength of ethnic identification, and proficiency in their families’ heritage languages.


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