Ethnicity, Acculturation, and Offending: Findings from a Sample of Hispanic Adolescents

Kristina M. Lopez1, Holly Ventura Miller*, 2
1 Texas State University, USA
2 University of Texas at San Antonio, USA

© 2011 Lopez and Miller;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the University of Texas at San Antonio, USA; Tel: 201-458-2688; Fax: 201-458-2680; Tel: 201-458-2688; Fax: 201-458-2680; E-mail:


This study examines the relationship between ethnicity, acculturation, and crime among a sample of Hispanic adolescents drawn from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) dataset. Prior research has shown that Hispanics who are more acculturated are more likely to engage in crime, but there is a lack of empirical evidence to explain why this is, and little research that has explored Hispanics relative to one another. In an effort to address these shortcomings, this study explores the impact of ethnicity on criminal offending among Hispanic adolescents. This study also examines whether acculturation, net of ethnicity, predicts criminal offending among this group. Using longitudinal data from the PHDCN, we assess the independent effects of ethnicity and generational status, as well as additional criminological variables on adolescent criminal offending. Findings indicated that, on average, Mexican adolescents were less likely than other Hispanics to report violent offending while Puerto Ricans were significantly more likely to report violent offending. No differences were observed between Hispanic subgroups with respect to property offending. Results from negative binomial regression revealed that ethnicity is rendered insignificant in multivariate analyses. Consistent with prior research, first generation immigrants were significantly less likely to engage in delinquent behavior, even after controlling for relevant criminological variables.

Keywords: Hispanics, acculturation, immigration, ethnicity and crime.