Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Health and Social Behavior (2015), 17 pp.; doi: 10.1177/0022146515611730


Copyright © 2015 American Sociological Association; published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


Adolescent survival expectations are linked to a range of problem behaviors, poor health, and later socioeconomic disadvantage, yet scholars have not examined how survival expectations are differentially patterned by race, ethnicity, and/or nativity. This is a critical omission given that many risk factors for low survival expectations are themselves stratified by race and ethnicity. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, we modeled racial, ethnic, and immigrant group differences in trajectories of adolescent survival expectations and assess whether these differences are accounted for by family, neighborhood, and/or other risk factors (e.g., health care access, substance use, exposure to violence). Findings indicated that most racial, ethnic, and immigrant groups were more pessimistic about their survival than were non-Hispanic whites, with the exception of Cuban youth, who were the most optimistic. Foreign-born Mexican youth had the lowest survival expectations, contrary to expectations from the “healthy-immigrant” hypothesis.