Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 716–722 | Cite as

Immigrant Youth Have Significantly Lower Rates of Externalizing Behavior than Native-Born Americans: Differences by Region of Birth

  • Theodore R. KremerEmail author
  • Kimberly Sutton
  • Kristen P. Kremer
Original Paper


A large proportion of Americans have the opinion that immigrants increase crime. Although past research has not found immigrant status to be associated with criminal behavior, American immigration policy has historically discriminated against certain groups based on their region of birth due to safety concerns. The purpose of the present study was to examine differences in externalizing behavior by immigrant’s region of birth. Data was used from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K), a nationally representative and longitudinal study of 21,260 kindergarteners. A series of Poisson regression models were used to predict externalizing behavior of fifth grade students from immigrant status and parent’s region of birth. Analyses controlled for demographic characteristics of the child and family and were adjusted by probability weights and primary sampling unit provided by the ECLS-K. After controlling for family income and parents’ educational status, immigrant youth had 0.04 lower externalizing behavior scores compared to native-born American youth (B = − 0.04, 95% CI − 0.06 to − 0.01). When considering differences by region of origin, youth from Asia (B = − 0.12, 95% CI − 0.17 to − 0.07) and Central America (B = − 0.10, 95% CI − 0.14 to − 0.05) had significantly lower externalizing behavior compared to native-born American youth, after controlling for covariates. In fifth grade, immigrant youth have significantly lower rates of externalizing behavior than native-born Americans. In particular, immigrant youth from Asia and Central America engaged in significantly less externalizing behavior than native-born Americans. No region of origin engaged in significantly more externalizing behavior than native-born youth.


Immigrant Externalizing behavior Anger Aggression 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Informed Consent

The article makes use of publicly available secondary data that was collected by the National Center for Education Statistics, in which informed consent was obtained by the NCES from all individual participants included in the study.

Research Involving Human and Animal Participants

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint Louis Children’s HospitalSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Kansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  4. 4.Department of PediatricsSt. Louis Children’s HospitalSt. LouisUSA

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