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Economic Stress, Parenting, and Child Adjustment in Mexican American and European American Families


  • This research was supported, in part, by grants from the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, University of California, Riverside; the Center for Rural Mental Health, Iowa State University; and National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH54154 (to Ross Parke). The authors extend thanks to all staff and research assistants who took part in this study.

concerning this article should be addressed to Ross D. Parke, Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521. Electronic mail may be sent to


To assess the impact of economic hardship on 111 European American and 167 Mexican American families and their 5th-grade (M age=11.4 years) children, a family stress model was evaluated. Structural equation analyses revealed that economic hardship was linked to indexes of economic pressure that were related to depressive symptoms for mothers and fathers of both ethnicities. Depressive symptoms were linked to marital problems and hostile parenting. Paternal hostile parenting was related to child adjustment problems for European Americans, whereas marital problems were linked to child adjustment problems for Mexican Americans. Maternal acculturation was associated with both higher marital problems and lower hostile parenting. The utility of the model for describing the effects of economic hardship in Mexican Americans is noted.