Ethnicity versus migration: Two hypotheses about the psychosocial adjustment of immigrant adolescents

Vered Slonim-Nevo, Yana Sharaga, Julia Mirsky, Vadim Petrovsky, Marina Borodenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Study background and aims: This study investigates the psychosocial adjustment of immigrant adolescents and examines two hypotheses: the ethnicity hypothesis, which suggests that ethnic background determines the psychosocial reactions of immigrant adolescents; and the migration hypothesis, which suggests that the migration experience determines such reactions. Methods: The study compared four groups of respondents: firs t-generation immigrants (N = 63) and second-generation immigrants (N = 64) from the former Soviet Union (FSU) in Israel; and Jewish (N = 212) and non-Jewish (N = 184) adolescents in the FSU. A self-report questionnaire administered to the respondents collected demographic, educational and psychological data using standardised scales. Results: Immigrant adolescents reported higher psychological distress, lower self-esteem and higher alchohol consumption than non-immigrant adolescents. Second-generation immigrants generally showed a higher level of functioning than first-generation immigrants. These findings favor the migration hypothesis. Conclusions: Our findings support the w idely accepted view of migration as a potentially distress-provoking experience. They suggest that psychological reactions of immigrant adolescents, and in fact all immigrants, are best interpreted as reactive and are related to the universal stressful qualities of the migration experience. Further multiethnic comparative studies, however, are needed to confirm and refine these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-53
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2006


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