Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 864–875 | Cite as

When Discrimination Hurts: The Longitudinal Impact of Increases in Peer Discrimination on Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms in Mexican-origin Youth

  • Gabriela Livas SteinEmail author
  • Laura Castro-Schilo
  • Alyson M. Cavanaugh
  • Yesenia Mejia
  • N. Keita Christophe
  • Richard Robins
Empirical Research


Life course models of the impact of discrimination on health and mental health outcomes posit that the pernicious effects of discrimination may not be immediate, but instead may become apparent at later stages in development. This study tests whether peer discrimination changes at particular transition points (i.e., transition to middle and high school) predict subsequent internalizing symptoms in Mexican-origin youth. In a sample of 674 Mexican-origin youth (50% female), this study used a latent change score framework to model changes in peer discrimination across time and to test whether changes in peer discrimination at 7th and 9th grades predicted greater depressive and anxiety symptoms in 12th grade controlling for 5th grade symptoms. Irrespective of longitudinal changes, greater peer discrimination in 5th grade predicted greater depressive and anxiety symptoms in 12th grade. Further, significant increases in peer discrimination from 7th to 8th grade and in 9th to 10th grade uniquely predicted greater anxiety symptoms in 12th grade. These findings suggest that longitudinal research on peer discrimination needs to take into account unique periods of risk. Future research implications are discussed.


Latinx Peer discrimination Internalizing 


Authors’ Contributions

All authors contributed significantly intellectually to the current manuscript. G.L.S. conceived the current study from an existing data set, helped plan the statistical analyses, and drafted the majority of the manuscript. L.C. conducted the statistical analyses, wrote the Data Analysis and Results sections, and made the Table and Figures. A.C., Y.M. and K.C. contributed to the literature review, interpretation of data, and manuscript preparation. R.R. conceived and designed the original study, secured funding, coordinated data collection, and helped draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA017902) to Richard W. Robins and Rand D. Conger. We thank the participating families, staff, and research assistants who took part in this study. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Data Sharing and Declaration

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The California Families Project (CFP) was granted ethical approval by the Institutional Review Board (Protocol # 217484-27) of the University of California, Davis. All authors have complied with the American Psychology Association’s ethical standards in the treatment of our sample.

Informed Consent

Per IRB requirements, all study participants provide informed consent to be in the study.

Supplementary material

10964_2019_1012_MOESM1_ESM.docx (29 kb)
Supplementary Table.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA
  2. 2.SAS Institute Inc, RTPGreensboroUSA
  3. 3.Frank Porter Graham Child Development InstituteUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California at DavisDavisUSA

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