Race and Social Problems

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 121–132 | Cite as

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



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 


  1. Agnew, R. (2001). Building on the foundation of general strain theory: Specifying the types of strain most likely to lead to crime and delinquency. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 38(4), 319–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ai, C., & Norton, E. (2003). Interaction terms in logit and probit models. Economic Letters, 80, 123–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Akers, R. (1985). Deviant behavior: A social learning approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  4. Akins, S., Rumbaut, R., & Stansfield, R. (2009). Immigration, economic disadvantage and homicide: An analysis of communities in Austin, Texas. Homicide Studies, 13, 307–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anderson, N., & Rodrigues, Z. O. (1984). Conceptual issues in the study of Hispanic delinquency. Hispanic Research Center Research Bulletin, 7(1–2), 2–8.Google Scholar
  6. Anderson, E. (1999). Code of the street. New York: W.W. Norton and Co.Google Scholar
  7. Bourgois, P. (2003). In search of respect: Selling crack in El Barrio (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Buis, M. L. (2010). Stata Tip 87: Interpretation of interactions in non-linear models. The Stata Journal, 10, 1–4.Google Scholar
  9. Burnham, M. A., Hough, R. L., Karno, M., Escobar, J. I., & Telles, C. A. (1987). Acculturation and lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorders among Mexican Americans in Los Angeles. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 9, 105–130.Google Scholar
  10. Butcher, K., & Piehl, A. M. (2008). Crime, corrections, and California: What does immigration have to do with it? California Counts, 9(3), 1–23.Google Scholar
  11. Chiricos, T. G. (2011). Undocumented immigrants as perceived criminal threat: A test of the minority threat perspective. Paper presented at the American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting, 2010.Google Scholar
  12. Cloward, R., & Ohlin, L. (1960). Delinquency and opportunity. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  13. Collier, R. (1998). Masculinities, crime and criminology. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  14. Dunn, T. J., Aragones, A. M., & Shivers, G. (2005). Recent Mexican migration in the rural Delmarva Peninsula: Human Rights versus citizenship rights in a local context. In V. Zuniga & R. Hernandez-Leon (Eds.), New destinations. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Durand, J., & Massey, D. S. (2004). Crossing the Border: Research from the Mexican Migration Project. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  16. Hagan, J., & Palloni, A. (1998). Immigration and crime in the United States. In J. P. Smith & B. Edmonston (Eds.), The immigration debate. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hagan, J., & Palloni, A. (1999). Sociological criminology and the mythology of Hispanic immigration and crime. Social Problems, 46, 617–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hagan, J., & Phillips, S. (2008). Border blunders: The unanticipated human and economic costs of the US approach to immigration control, 1986–2007. Criminology and Public Policy, 7, 83–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Harris, K. M. (1999). The health status and risk behavior of adolescents in immigrant families. In D. Hernández (Ed.), Children of immigrants: Health, adjustment, and public assistance (pp. 286–347). Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences Press.Google Scholar
  20. Harty, K. (2006). Illegal immigration: The fight in Delaware. Delaware online. Retrieved on May 21, 2012 (http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20060820/NEWS/608200370).
  21. Hay, C. (2003). Family strain, gender, and delinquency. Sociological Perspectives, 46(1), 107–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hill, C. J., Holzer, H. J., & Chen, J. (2008). Against the tide: Household structure, opportunities and outcomes among white and minority youth. Paper presented at the NLSY97 tenth anniversary conference, May 29–30, 2008.Google Scholar
  23. Johnson, J. H., Farrell, W. & Guinn, C. (1997). Immigration reform and the browning of America: Tensions, conflict, and community instability. International Migration Review, 31, 1055–1095.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Katz, C. M., Fox, A. M., & White, M. D. (2010). Assessing the relationship between immigration status and drug use. Justice Quarterly, 28(4), 541–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kotkin, J. (2000). The new geography. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  26. Martinez, R., Jr. (2002). Latino homicide: Immigration, violence, and community. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Martinez, R., Jr., Stowell, J. I., & Cancino, J. M. (2008). A tale of two border cities: Community context, ethnicity, and homicide. Social Science Quarterly, 89(1), 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Martinez, R., Jr, & Valenzuela, A. (2006). Immigration and crime: Race, ethnicity, and violence. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  29. McQueen, A. J., Getz, G., & Bray, J. H. (2003). Acculturation, substance use, and deviant behavior: Examining separation and family conflict as mediators. Child Development, 74(6), 1737–1750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Merton, R. K. (1938). Social structure and anomie. American Sociological Review, 3, 672–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Messner, S. F., & Rosenfeld, R. (2001). Crime and the American dream (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  32. Morenoff, J. D., & Astor, A. (2006). Immigrant assimilation and crime: Generational differences in youth violence in Chicago’. In R. Martinez Jr. & A. Valenzuela (Eds.), Immigration and crime: Race, ethnicity, and violence (pp. 36–63). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  33. National Research Center. (2001). Juvenile crime, juvenile justice. Panel on juvenile crime: Prevention, treatment, and control. Washington, DC: Committee on Law and Justice.Google Scholar
  34. Nielsen, A. L., Lee, M. T., & Martinez, R., Jr. (2005). Integrating race, place, and motive in social disorganization theory: Lessons from a comparison of black and Latino homicide types in two immigrant destination cities. Criminology, 43(3), 837–865.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lee, M., Martinez, R., & Rosenfeld, R. (2001). Does immigration increase homicide rates? Negative evidence from three border cities. The Sociological Quarterly, 42, 559–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lock Haven Express. (2012). Police News. http://www.lockhaven.com/page/content.detail/id/537955/Police-News---April-2--2012.html?nav=5028. Accessed 12 Apr 2012.
  37. Ousey, G. C., & Kubrin, C. E. (2009). Exploring the connection between immigration and violent crime rates in US cities, 1980–2000. Social problems, pp. 447–473.Google Scholar
  38. Pew Hispanic Center. (2009). Between two worlds: How young latinos come of age in America. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  39. Portes, A., & Rumbaut, R. G. (2001). Legacies: The Story of the immigrant second generation. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  40. Portes, A., & Rumbaut, R. G. (2006). Immigrant America: A portrait. Third Edition: Revised, expanded and updated. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  41. Portes, A., & Zhou, M. (1993). The new second generation: Segmented assimilation and its variants. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 53, 74–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rabes-Hesketh, S., & Skrondal, A. (2008). Multilevel and longitudinal modeling using Stata (2nd ed.). College Station, Texas: Stata Press.Google Scholar
  43. Reid, L. W., Weiss, H. E., Adelman, R. M., & Jaret, C. (2005). The immigration-crime relationship: Evidence across US metropolitan areas. Social Science Research, 34, 757–870.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rossiter, M. J., & Rossiter, K. R. (2009). Immigrant youth and crime: Stakeholder perspectives on risk and protective factors. PMC Working Paper Series. Retrieved on May 1st 2011 (http://pcerii.metropolis.net/WorkingPapers/WP0209.pdf).
  45. Rumbaut, R. G. (2008). Undocumented immigration and rates of crime and imprisonment: Popular myths and empirical realities. Paper presented to the police foundation national conference, the role of police: Striking a balance between immigration enforcement and civil liberties. Washington, DC, August 21–22, 2008.Google Scholar
  46. Rumbaut, R. G. (2009). A language graveyard? The evolution of language competencies, preferences and use among young adult children of immigrants. In T. G. Wiley, J. S. Lee, & R. W. Rumberger (Eds.), The education of language minority immigrants in the United States. New York: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  47. Rumbaut, R. G., & Ewing, W. A. (2007). The myth of immigrant criminality and the paradox of assimilation. Immigration Policy Center Special Report. Washington, DC: American Immigration Law Foundation.Google Scholar
  48. Rumbaut, R. G., Gonzales, R. G., Komaie, G., & Morgan, C. V. (2006). Debunking the myth of immigrant criminality: Imprisonment among first- and second-generation young men. Retrieved on May 20th 2011 (http://www.migrationinformation.org/Feature/display.cfm?id=403 %20).
  49. Sabogal, F., Marin, G., Otero-Sabogal, R., et al. (1987). Hispanic familism and acculturation: What changes and what doesn’t?. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 9(4), 387–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sampson, R. J., Raudenbush, S. W., & Earls, F. (1997). Neighborhoods and violent crime: A multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science, 277, 918–924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sampson, R. J. (2008). Rethinking crime and immigration. Contexts, 7, 28–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sampson, R. J., Morenoff, J. D., & Raudenbush, S. W. (2005). Social anatomy of racial and ethnic disparities in violence. American Journal of Public Health, 95, 224–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Shetgiri, R., Kataoka, S., Ponce, N., et al. (2010). Adolescent fighting: Racial/Ethnic disparities and the importance of families and schools. Academic Pediatrics, 10(5), 323–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Skogan, W. G. (2006). Police and community in Chicago: A tale of three cities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Slicker, E. K. (1998). Relationship of parenting style to behavioral adjustment in graduating high school seniors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27(3), 345–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Stowell, J. I. (2007). Immigration and crime: The effects of immigration on criminal behavior. New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing.Google Scholar
  57. Suárez-Orozco, M. M. (1989). Central American refugees and U.S. high schools: A psychosocial study of motivation and achievement. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Sullivan, M. L. (1989). ‘Getting paid’: Youth crime and work in the inner city. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Tepper, R. (2001). Parental regulation and adolescent discretionary time-use decisions: Findings from the NLSY97. In R. Michael (Ed.), Social Awakening: Adolescent behavior as adulthood approaches. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  60. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Department of Justice. (2007). Crime and victim statistics. Available online at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cvict.htm.
  61. US Census Bureau. (2008). Hispanic Heritage month 2007: Facts and figures. Available online at: (http://www.census.gov/Press Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/010327.html).
  62. Villarruel, F. A., & Walker, N. E. (2002). Dónde Está la Justicia: A call to action on behalf of Latino and Latina youth in the U.S. justice system. Washington, DC: Michigan State University/Building Blocks for Youth.Google Scholar
  63. Warr, M. (1993). Parents, peers, and delinquency. Social Forces, 72(1), 247–264.Google Scholar
  64. Warr, M., & Stafford, M. (1991). The influence of delinquent peers: What they think or what they do?’. Criminology, 29(4), 851–866.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Webber, C. (2008). Revaluating relative deprivation theory. Theoretical Criminology, 11(1), 97–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wilson, W. J. (1987). The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Wortley, S. (2008). The immigration-crime connection: Competing theoretical perspectives. International Migration & Integration, 10, 349–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zhou, M. (2001). Contemporary immigration and the dynamics of race and ethnicity. In N. J. Smelser, W. J. Wilson, & F. Mitchell (Eds.), America becoming: Racial trends and their consequences (2nd ed., pp. 200–242). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Criminal JusticeUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

Personalised recommendations