Race and Social Problems

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 121-132

First online:

A Multilevel Analysis of Hispanic Youth, Exposure to the United States, and Retail Theft

  • Richard StansfieldAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology and Criminal Justice, University of Delaware Email author 

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Panel data in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97) provide an excellent opportunity to examine the relationship between Hispanic immigration, assimilation, and retail theft. This study examines the relationship between length of time Hispanic youth have spent in America, with the probability of stealing from a store. After controlling for traditional predictors of crime that are correlated with adolescence and immigrant status, random effects logistic regression models indicate that immigrants are less likely to steal than non-immigrants. However, calculating the marginal effects of time spent in the United States reveals that their probability increases with assimilation. Supplementary analyses specify that Hispanic youth who enter the United States within their first 5 years of age will have higher odds of engaging in retail theft. Supportive parenting and a structured home environment is a consistent protective factor in the models. Policies targeting pro-family and social identification are likely to benefit immigrant youth as they acculturate to America.


Hispanic Immigration Assimilation Retail theft