Student Research Projects

The Latino Adolescent and Maternal Separation

Student John Evans
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Psychology


The United States is currently experiencing substantial changes in the composition of our population, contributing to a growing need to investigate the developmental processes of ethnic minority groups. One such group is that of Latinos. Currently, Latinos constitute some 44.3 million with a population growth rate more than 3 times the rate of the general United States population (US Census Bureau, 2006). It is imperative that researchers make a study of such samples a priority.

A common pattern among Latino immigrant teenagers is childhood separation from their parents. These parents come to the United States seeking employment with the intention of bringing the child with him or her once they are established, but this sometimes is not achieved until years later, leaving an extended period of separation. (Bernhardt, Landolt & Goldring, 2009). This pattern has rarely been investigated, and is predicted to have consequences upon a number of outcome variables.

For this study, I wish to examine the effects of this separation in childhood on ethnic identity formation and depression. It is my prediction that adolescents who have experienced childhood separation from their mother will experience a stronger identity to Latino culture and be more likely to experience depression than those who did not experience such a separation.