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Foreign-born children in Europe: an overview from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study

Authors:
  • National University of Ireland Galway
Foreign-born Children in Europe: an Overview
from the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children
(HBSC) Study
InternationalOrganizationforMigration(IOM)
Background Paper
In the framework of the
“Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC): Analysis of Social Determinants of Health
and Health Inequalities” project
Co-funded by the European Commission DG Health and Consumers’ Health Programme
2006 and the Portuguese High Commissariat for Health
Michal Molcho (New University of Ireland Galway)
Þóroddur Bjarnason, Francesca Cristini, Margarida Gaspar de Matos, Theadora Koller,
Carmen Moreno, Saoirse Nic Gabhainn , Massimo Santinello
HBSC Study Group
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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This document was produced with the financial contribution of the European Commission. Opinions expressed in this
paper do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission..
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through migration; and uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.
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ISBN 978 92 9068 355 1
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Table of contents
Executive Summary.....................................................................................................3
Introduction.................................................................................................................. 4
Facts figures and trends of migration in EU countries – brief review.......................4
Immigrant children – literature review ......................................................................4
Situation analysis .........................................................................................................7
Overview of HBSC....................................................................................................7
Methods......................................................................................................................8
Findings......................................................................................................................8
Bullying....................................................................................................................12
Smoking ...................................................................................................................13
Alcohol use ..............................................................................................................13
Limitations ...............................................................................................................14
National initiatives..................................................................................................... 14
Case study 1: Iceland ...............................................................................................15
Case study 2: Ireland................................................................................................20
Case study 3: Italy....................................................................................................26
Case study 4: Portugal .............................................................................................35
Case study 5: Spain..................................................................................................40
Emerging findings and conclusions..........................................................................48
Challenges identified ...............................................................................................49
References...................................................................................................................51
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Executive Summary
Introduction
The background paper presented here is based on findings from the Health Behaviour in
School-Aged Children (HBSC) study. The HBSC research network is an international,
multidisciplinary alliance of researchers working together since 1982. In 2005/6, 41 countries
and regions in Europe and North America collected data as part of the HBSC study. The
overall aim of the study is to gain new insights and increase understanding of adolescent
health behaviour. Of the network, 12 countries (Flemish-speaking Belgium, Germany,
Denmark, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Scotland, Sweden, Wales and Portugal.)
included questions on children’s immigration status are included in the situation analysis, and
further five countries provided more in-depth national case studies.
Situation analysis
The proportion of child immigrants in the participating countries ranged from 4% in Wales to
11% in Ireland. In all countries, child immigrants were similar to their native peers in relation
to age and gender distribution, however, in all countries, child immigrants were more likely to
live in low socio-economic households. No other clear cross-national patterns are found in
relation to general health, relationship with parents and friends, school perceptions or
involvement in risk behaviours. In some countries child immigrants fared better than their
native peers, in other they are similar to their peers, and in some, they fare worse.
National case studies
The background paper includes five national case studies, allowing for a more detailed
analysis of child immigrants’ experiences. Iceland has analysed cultural and linguistic
predictors of difficulties in school and of involvement in risk behaviours among child
immigrants; Ireland reviewed health inequalities in three groups of children in Ireland, child
immigrants from the UK, child immigrants from the non-UK countries and Traveller children.
Italy explored risk behaviours in immigrant children and the effect of family monitoring in
involvement in such behaviours; Portugal looked at nationally versus poverty, looking at
findings and recommendations regarding interventions with migrant adolescents; and Spain
focused on policies and practices for migrant children.
Emerging findings and conclusions
The findings highlight mainly two different issues. The first is that child immigrants across
the board are more likely to live in low socio-economic households, and thus are more
disadvantaged than their native peers. Child immigrants are also at a higher risk for social
exclusion. The second issue is the lack of one, clear massage regarding child immigrants’
health and experiences. Findings in this paper highlight the complexity of the immigration
phenomenon, and the different aspects of it that predict health and health behaviour (e.g.
country of origin, country of residence, fluency in the language of country of residence and
more). These findings strongly stress the need for more focused studies on immigrants,
looking at different groups, and at country of origin and country of residence, potentially
through comparing specific immigrant groups across countries.
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Introduction
Facts figures and trends of migration in EU countries – brief review
Immigration is a world-wide phenomenon, involving many millions of people and most
countries (United Nations, 2002). In 2006, an estimated 3.5 million people settled as new
residents in the 27 EU countries, with the largest increase in immigration evident in Spain and
Ireland. The majority of the new residents were from non-EU countries. Of these immigrants,
more than half were younger than 29 years of age, and there are more men than women
(Herm, 2008).
In some countries, the percentage of migrants is as low as 1%, while nearly 40% is reported
as the highest proportion of migrants in one EU country. Western European countries report
levels of 10–15% of the total population. In terms of numbers, the largest populations of
migrants are found in five countries: Germany (10.1 million), France (6.5 million), the United
Kingdom (5.4 million), Spain (4.8 million) and Italy (2.5 million) (Gushulak B, Pace P,
Weekers J, in press).
Immigrant children – literature review
There are many definitions used to define children as immigrants but the two most common
definitions are first and second generation immigrants. Children are defined as first generation
immigrants if they were not born in the country of residence (foreign-born), and as second
generation immigrants if one or two of their parents were not born in the country of residence,
even if they are born in that country. In both cases, children are imposed with the process of
immigration which can be rather challenging: immigrants leave their homeland and settle in a
new country, often with different norms and morals, and need to adapt to a sometimes
markedly different culture and socioeconomic conditions, often facing discrimination and
racism (Pantin et al., 2003; Berry, 1997; Ward, Bochner, & Furnham, 2001). It is therefore
important to study the experiences of immigrant children. Most of the studies on this age
group were conducted in the US and Canada, with fewer studies conducted in Europe
(Stevens et al., 2003; Vollebergh et al., 2005; Storhmeier and Schmitt-Rodermund, 2008).
Studies on child immigrants mostly described their socio-demographics circumstances, and
involvement in risk behaviours, language fluency, school performance and mental health of
these children, compared to native children.
All the literature on child immigrants points towards the overall poor living circumstances
experienced by this group. A review of immigrant children in the US revealed that 54% of
immigrant children live in low-income households compared to 36% of natives, with parental
wages being substantially lower than those of parents of native children. Immigrant children
are also more exposed to food insecurity, crowded housing, and are less likely to have
medical insurance. Having no legal status, some immigrants are also less likely to receive
cash welfare compared to native children (The Urban Institute, 2006). These findings were
echoed in Hernandez et al.’s study (2008), adding that immigrant children tend to live with
both parents and with siblings and other relatives, and their fathers tend to have lower level of
education and lower paying jobs. Similar findings have been reported among immigrant
children in the Netherlands (Vollebergh et al., 2005).
Another issue that is commonly addressed in relation to child immigrants is the level of
fluency in the language spoken in the host country. US studies show that immigrant children
are very likely to be fluent in English and become bilingual. However, approximately one
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fourth of child immigrants live in households with no one over age 13 being fluent in English
(Hernandez et al., 2008). These children may experience a high degree of isolation from
English-speaking society. These children also act as the primary intermediary between adult
family members and professionals in various settings, a role that may expose them to more
stress (Hernandez et al., 2008). The language spoken in the home appears to have a direct
influence on the well-being of immigrant youth, although the pattern is not clear. Gonzales et
al. (2006) found that among Mexican immigrant adolecents, speaking English at home
predicted behavioural and emotional problems; while Yu et al. (2003) found that US
adolescents are more likely to be bullied if they do not speak English in their home.
The process of migration is not an easy one, according to various studies assessing child
immigrants’ mental health. Child immigrants are usually compared to either native children,
or children of the same age group in the country of origin. In Italy, one study concluded that
immigrant children experienced more psychosomatic symptoms and reported lower levels of
life satisfaction; self-reported health; social integration; and victimization compared to their
native peer (Vieno et al., 2009). Another study explored the mental health of Turkish
immigrants in the Netherlands. The study found that compared to Dutch Children, Turkish
immigrant children were more likely to report behavioural problems, both internalised and
externalised, with depression as the leading problem. Immigrant boys presented more
attention problems, delinquent behaviours and aggressive behaviour. Girls presented more
somatic complaints, anxious/depression, and withdrawn behaviour. However, when compared
to children of the same age group in Turkey, Turkish immigrant children in the Netherlands
had similar levels of mental/behavioural problems. However, immigrant children scored
higher on competence scale (Bengi-Arslan et al., 1997). This was echoed in the work of
Janssen and colleagues (2004).
Other studies in the Netherlands that did not focus on Turkish immigrants, did not find
differences in the mental health of immigrants compared to their native peers (Vollebergh et
al., 2005). Similarities between child immigrant and native peer were also reported in Canada
(Ma, 2002), Australia (Davies and McKelvey, 1998) and the US (Blake et al., 2001; Beiser at
al., 2002). This lack of differences between immigrant children their peers is known as the
‘‘immigrant paradox’’ (Fuligni, 1998; Gracía Coll, 2005; Berry et al., 2006). The immigrant
paradox refers to lack of differences between immigrant children and their native peers, or to
immigrant children faring better than native peers in relation to psychological and socio-
cultural adaptation (Beiser et al., 2002; Crosnoe, 2005; Harker, 2001; Mullan Harris, 1999;
Acevedo-Garcia et al., 2005; Georgiades et al., 2006; Sampson, Morenoff, & Raudenbush,
2005), despite being exposed to worse-off socio-economic circumstances (Beiser et al., 2002;
Heisz & McLeod, 2004; Schellenberg, 2004).
Interestingly, it is immigrants’ parents that are worried about the mental health of their
children, as, irrespective of other evidence, they perceive their children to be at higher risk for
marginalisation (Vollebergh et al., 2005). Storhmeier and Schmitt-Rodermund (2008)
summarised this aspect of immigrants children lives, stating that immigration experience per
se does not necessarily lead to adaptation problems.
Case studies produced through an evidence review process on “Social cohesion for mental
wellbeing among adolescents”, facilitated by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and
partners including the HBSC network, explored the relation between mental well-being and
socioeconomic status, gender, migrant status, geography and family structure. The studies
from Germany, Portugal, Republic of Moldova and Spain explored issues related to migrant
children’s mental health and wellbeing; some of these findings are further elaborated in the
next section of this paper. The above-cited work highlights the importance of studying several
risk factors occurring simultaneously (e.g., low socioeconomic status, one–parent household,
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migrant status with lesser levels of social cohesion) in relation to mental wellbeing (WHO
Regional Office for Europe, 2008).
It is also important to note that when problems in adaptation and delinquent behaviour among
immigrant youth do exist, they appear to be strongly moderated by levels of social cohesion,
exposure to discrimination/exclusion based on ethnicity (or conversely, similar ethnic
background), fluency in the language of the country of residence, the norms and expectations
in the country of origin and in the country of residence and the actual process of adaptation.
Being fully integrated into the new society does not necessarily lead to fewer problems among
adolescents. Research among Lebanese immigrants in Canada showed that those with a strong
Lebanese national identity experienced less depression and fewer problems in daily life
compared to those with a strong Canadian national identity (Gaudet et al., 2005). Greater
adaptation to American culture was associated with increased sexual risk-taking among
Russian immigrant girls in the United States (Jeltova et al., 2005). A cross-national study of
Turkish immigrants found that fluency in Turkish and a strong Turkish identity were
associated with fewer behavioural problems in Sweden but not in the Netherlands (Vedder
and Virta, 2005). The researchers explained these results referring to the differences in
immigration policies between these two countries: while Swedish immigration policies
emphasize strengthening the ethnic roots of immigrants, policies in the Netherlands emhasize
adaption to Dutch language and culture.
As with mental health, findings in relation to involvement in risk behaviours are divided:
immigrant children in the US and Canada, even when living in families with lower
socioeconomic status, are less likely to smoke, drink, use drugs or engage in delinquent
behaviour, as described by the “immigrant paradox” (Georgoades, 2006; Haris, 2004);
however, Russian immigrant youth in Israel for example, report higher rates of substance use
compared to their native peers (Isralowitz and Slonim-Nevo, 2002). Such findings were also
previously reported by Bengi-Arslan et al., (1997) and by Pawliuk et al. (1996).
Another aspect of migrant children lives that has been explored is academic achievement and
attainment. Here also, findings vary between countries of origin and countries of residence. In
general, students from low- and middle-income countries and politically unstable countries
tend to do worse in school compared to their native peers (Levels, Dronkers and Kraaykamp,
2008). However, in many Western countries, students of Asian background have better
academic achivements than thier native peers. This has been reported in Finland (Liebkind et
al., 2004), Australia (Cardak and McDonald, 2004) and the United States (Glick and White,
2004). Latino students in the US, on the other hand, have rather consistently been found to
perform worse in school (Harris et al., 2008). To complicate things further, immigrant youth
in Sweden are disproportionately represented among both high-achieving students and among
early school leavers (Westin, 2003).
Although many studies on immigrant children were conducted in the US and Canada, much
less is known on immigrant children in European countries (Stevens et al., 2003; Vollebergh
et al., 2005; Storhmeier and Schmitt-Rodermund, 2008). Even fewer studies have presented
international comparisons. One effort to make such comparisons was carried out by Berry and
colleagues (2006) examining immigrant children in 13 countries. However, the samples per
country were very small. Using data from the 2006 Health Behaviour in School-Aged
Children (HBSC), this background paper presents a situation analysis of immigrant children
in a number of countries in Europe, supplemented by more in-depth initiatives taken in five of
the HBSC countries. The situation analysis will explore child immigrants’ relationship with
parents and peers, school perceptions and involvement in risk behaviour compared to their
native peers. The situation analysis will also explore differences in age, gender and family
affluence between immigrant children and their native peers in the 12 participating countries.
The case studies that follow provide a more in-depth exploration of HBSC data in five
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countries, allowing for a better understanding of the experiences of child immigrants in those
countries. The background paper will then discuss the results of the situation analysis and of
the five case studies and will draw conclusions and highlight gaps in knowledge.
Situation analysis
Overview of HBSC
The HBSC research network is an international alliance of researchers and research teams
from different disciplines including sociology, pedagogy, paediatrics, psychology,
epidemiology, clinical medicine, human biology and public health. The alliance dates from
1982, when researchers from three countries (England, Finland and Norway) agreed to
develop and implement a shared research protocol to survey schoolchildren with the aim of
collaborating cross-nationally. By 1983, researchers from Austria and Denmark had joined,
and the HBSC study was adopted by the WHO Regional Office for Europe as a collaborative
study. The early success of the study led to an agreement to continue to survey schoolchildren
on a cyclic basis. The next survey round, conducted in the academic year 1985/86, included a
total of 13 countries. Independent cross-sectional surveys have continues every four years
since that time. In 2005/6, 41 countries and regions in Europe and North America collected
data as part of the HBSC study. The overall aim of the study is to gain new insights and
increase understanding of adolescent health behaviour.
In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on adolescents’ perceptions of the social
environments in which young people live, which can influence health and health behaviour.
The following aspects of the social environment are explored:
Family: communication with parents
Family: monitoring style
Peers: close friendships
Peers: evenings with friends
Peers: electronic media contact
School: liking school
School: perceived school performance
School: pressured by schoolwork
School: classmate support
School: participation in decision making
In recent years, the emphasis on inequalities has also increased. The study permits
disaggregation of data by gender, age, geography, socioeconomic status, and, in some cases,
by foreign-born status (Currie et al, 2008). The crossing of these variables by health, health
behaviour and risk behaviour allows for the identification of health inequalities and health
inequities1. As such, the study can provide useful insight to social determinants of health
inequities. A focus on the adolescent age group is an important part of a life-course approach
to health inequities, and HBSC data can be used in this context.
1 Health inequities involve more than inequality in exposure to health determinants or outcomes, or in
access to the resources needed to improve and maintain health; health inequities involve a failure to
avoid or overcome such inequality that infringes human rights norms or is otherwise unfair. A
characteristic common to groups that experience health inequities is lack of power in political, social,
and/or economic terms. The term “social determinants of health inequities” refers to the social aspects
that influence the inequitable distribution of health (WHO, 2009).
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The HBSC study is the product of the international network of researchers who work on
topic-focused groups that collaborate to develop the conceptual underpinnings of the study,
identify research questions, decide the methods and measurements to be employed and work
on data analyses and the dissemination of the findings. The evidence produced from HBSC is
therefore able to inform a wide range of policy and practice agendas.
Methods
The international questionnaire is developed by the network in English and is subsequently
translated into national and sub-national languages. Questionnaires are then translated back to
English for checking by the International Coordinating Centre. The questionnaires are self-
administered in classrooms with methods to ensure confidentiality and anonymity. Sampling
is conducted in accordance with the structure of the national education systems within
countries and is sometimes stratified by region or school type. The sampling unit in this study
is school class or the whole school where a sample frame of classes is not available. The non-
independence of students within a classroom is considered in the procedures for sample-size
calculation. Children aged 11, 13, and 15 years are the target for the international study.
These age groups represent the onset of adolescence, the challenge of physical and emotional
changes, and the middle years when important life and career choices are beginning.
Additional to the standard mandatory questionnaire, topic-focused working groups develop
topic-based packages that are used in the countries that choose to focus on these topics.
Questions on immigration were developed by the Social Inequality working group. These
included four questions: ‘Where you born in [country of residence]?’; ‘In which country was
your mother born?’; ‘In which country was your father born?’; ‘What language do you most
often speak at home?’. The answering categories for the first question are ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The
latter three questions are open-ended (i.e. students specified the country and language).
For the purposes of the situation analysis, children were identified as immigrants if they were
born outside of country of residence, and will be referred to as ‘foreign-born children’.
Information on foreign-born children was collected in 12 European countries and regions:
Flemish-speaking Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Italy,
Scotland, Sweden, Wales and Portugal.
Findings
Demographic
The demographic distribution of foreign-born children was examined. In most countries (with
the exception of Spain and Wales), foreign-born children were older than their native peers.
Foreign-born children are similarly distributed in both genders.
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Table 1: Percentage distribution of foreign-born children by country, gender and age group (in
bracket: number of children)
Country All Boys Girls 11 y 13 y 15 y
Belgium (Flemish) 4.8
(206)
5.1
(111)
4.5
(95)
3.2
(41)
5.6
(78)
5.4
(87)
Denmark 5.5
(313)
5.6
(153)
5.4
(160)
4.1
(85)
5.4
(110)
7.2
(112)
Germany 6.5
(468)
6.5
(237)
6.4
(231)
5.1
(114)
6.6
(160)
7.3
(187)
Greece 7.2
(265)
6.0
(106)
8.1
(159)
4.3
(47)
7.9
(93)
8.8
(124)
Iceland* 6.5
(122)
6.1
(58)
6.9
(64)
6.5
(121)
Ireland 11.0
(536)
10.5
(260)
11.5
(276)
10.1
(138)
10.5
(187)
12.2
(206)
Italy 4.8
(190)
5.0
(100)
4.6
(90)
3.6
(45)
4.7
(63)
5.8
(77)
Portugal 5.8
(235)
4.8
(103)
5.8
(132)
5.3
(68)
5.5
(82)
5.2
(85)
Scotland 8.3
(515)
8.3
(253)
8.4
(262)
6.6
(111)
8.6
(194)
9.4
(205)
Spain 8.6
(737)
8.2
(358)
8.4
(379)
9.8
(292)
7.9
(223)
7.3
(222)
Sweden 4.7
(207)
5.1
(111)
4.3
(96)
3.9
(58)
4.2
(57)
5.8
(88)
Wales 4.0
(177)
3.9
(84)
4.2
(93)
4.7
(70)
3.9
(59)
3.3
(45)
* data collected for 15 year olds only
Socio-economic background
HBSC uses primarily two measures of socio-economic background or status (SES). The more
traditional one is based on parental occupation as reported by the children. Whereas
occupation is considered to be the standard SES measure, within the context of HBSC, it has
been found that many children do not report their parents’ occupation or do not provide
sufficient details for their parental occupation to be codified (Currie et al., 2008). To
overcome this difficulty, the Family Affluence Scale (FAS) was developed, reflecting
affluence and consumption patterns. FAS is comprised of four easily answered, non-sensitive
component items, including family car ownership, children having their own bedroom, the
number of family holidays, and the number of family computers. FAS is used as a sum score
and as a continuous variable or recoded to a categorical variable identifying low, middle and
high family affluence (Currie et al., 2008). Table 2 presents the FAS distribution of foreign-
born children compared to their native peers.
Table 2: Distribution of FAS by foreign-born status (%)
Country Foreign-born Natives
High
FAS
Mid
FAS
Low
FAS
High
FAS
Mid
FAS
Low
FAS
Significance
level
Belgium (Flemish) 44.5 37.7 17.8 47.2 42.7 10.0 P<0.01
Denmark 42.9 39.2 17.9 51.4 41.4 7.3 P<0.001
Germany 22.1 47.0 30.9 48.5 39.5 12.0 P<0.001
Greece 11.4 41.4 47.1 28.6 47.7 23.6 P<0.001
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Iceland 62.9 28.4 8.6 70.7 27.5 1.8 P<0.001
Ireland 21.5 54.9 21.5 20.0 56.4 23.6 N.S.
Italy 27.0 37.4 35.3 32.2 46.1 20.4 P<0.001
Portugal 22.6 40.1 32.9 32.0 43.4 24.4 P<0.005
Scotland 48.0 38.2 13.8 42.8 40.8 16.3 N.S.
Spain 22.3 42.7 35.0 40.9 46.1 13.1 P<0.001
Sweden 33.5 43.8 22.7 57.0 37.3 5.7 P<0.001
Wales 31.6 41.8 26.6 45.6 41.4 13.0 P<0.001
Findings presented in table reveal that in most countries, foreign-born children live in less
affluent families compared to their native peers. The level of inequality is different between
the different countries, but with the exception of Ireland and Scotland, such disparities are
significant in all countries. All subsequent analyses are therefore controlled for age, gender
and FAS, presenting estimates that are over and above age and gender difference, and
differences in level of family affluence that was found to be associated with health, risk
behaviours and relationships.
Self-rated general health
Health is an asset that could affect the ability of an individual to experience life to its full.
Experiencing good health and high levels of life satisfaction are important aspects of life and
a cornerstone for all other life spheres. Children were asked questions on their general health
and life satisfaction. Children were asked “Would you say your health is…?” with answering
categories ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘fair’, poor’. For the purpose of this case study, response
categories were dichotomized to ‘excellent health’ vs. ‘good, fair and poor’. Children were
also asked about their perceived life satisfaction: “Here is a picture of a ladder, the top of the
ladder ‘10’ is the best possible life for you and the bottom, ‘0’ is the worst possible life. In
general, where on the ladder do you feel you stand at the moment?” For the purpose of this
paper, answers were dichotomized to 9-10 as high level of life satisfaction, vs. 0-8. Overall,
no differences were found between foreign-born children and their native peers in relation to
general health. The two exceptions were Ireland and Wales. Foreign-born children in Wales
1.5 times more likely to experience excellent health compared to their native peers (Odds
Ratio (OR): 1.5, p<0.05); foreign-born children in Ireland, on the other hand, were less likely
to report high life satisfaction compared to their native peers (OR 0.78, p<0.05).
Relationships with parent and friends
Many studies have indicated the importance of relationships with parents and peers in the life
of adolescents. Healthy relationships with parents can act as a protective factor against
adverse health and risky behaviours, whereas healthy peer relationships can help enhancing
positive health (Molcho et al., 2007). Children were asked three questions on their
relationships with peers and with their parents: children were asked “How easy is it for you to
talk to the following person about things that really bother you?”. Among the listed people
were father, mother and best friend. Answering categories comprised of ‘very easy’, ‘easy’,
‘difficult’, ‘very difficult’, ‘don’t have or see this person’. In most countries (with the
exception of Flemish-speaking Belgium) child immigrants were significantly more likely to
report that they don’t have or don’t see their father compare to their native peers. In Belgium,
Spain and Sweden child immigrants were also more likely to report that they don’t have or
don’t see their mother. In Spain, Iceland, Italy and Wales child immigrants were more likely
to report that they don’t have or don’t see their best friends. Since the numbers of immigrants
children reporting that don’t see their father, mother or best friends were overall low,
answering categories in the situational analysis were dichotomized to ‘easy’ vs. ‘difficult’,
with those reporting that they do not have or do not see that person excluded from the
analysis. Table 3 presents the odds ratios of positive relationships by immigration status.
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Table 3: Models of logistic regression: odds ratios of relationships with parents and friends
predicted by foreign-born status, by country
Country Easy to
father
Easy to mother Easy to best
friend
Belgium (Flemish) 1.22 0.83 1.02
Denmark 0.96 1.00 0.67*
Germany 1.04 1.00 1.86**
Greece 0.57*** 0.68* 0.85
Iceland 0.85 0.82 0.72
Ireland 1.16 1.06 0.75*
Italy 0.96 0.73 0.75
Portugal 0.96 1.03 0.72
Scotland 0.96 0.93 0.81
Spain 0.94 0.80* 0.88
Sweden 1.01 1.50 1.39
Wales 0.98 1.02 0.89
*p<0.05; ** p<0.01; ***p<0.001
All analyses are controlled for gender, age and family affluence
Findings presented in table 3 suggest that in most countries there are no differences between
foreign-born children and their native peers regarding relationships with parents with the
exception of Greece, where foreign-born children are less likely to find it easy or very easy to
talk to their mother and father; and in Spain, where foreign-born children are less likely to
find it easy or very easy to talk to their mother. A more mixed pattern is found regarding peer
relationships. Only in Germany (significant) and Sweden (not significant) were foreign-born
children more likely to find it easy to talk to their best friend, whereas in Denmark and Ireland
(but also in most other countries, albeit not statistically significant) foreign-born children
were less likely to report that they find it easy to talk to their best friend.
School life
School is the place where children spent a large part of their time. In school children gain
their education, but school is also and important socialization agent, and negative school
perceptions have been associated with lower levels of well-being and with increased risk for
involvement in risk behaviours (Bonny et al., 2000; Rasmussen et al., 2005). Presented here
are three questions regarding school life, examining perceived academic performance, overall
school perception and relationship with classmates.
Children were asked: “In your opinion, what does the class teacher(s) think about your school
performance compared to your classmates?” with answering categories: ‘very good’, ‘good’,
‘average’, below average’; “How do you feel about school at present?” with answering
categories: ‘I like it a lot’, ‘I like it a bit’, ‘I don’t like it very much’, I don’t like it at all’; and
“Please show how much you agree with the statement other students accept me as I am” with
answering categories: ‘strongly agree’, ‘agree’, ‘neither agree nor disagree’, ‘disagree’
‘strongly disagree’. Answers were dichotomized to ‘above average school performance’ vs.
‘average performance or less’; ‘like school’ vs. ‘do not like school’; and ‘agree’ vs. ‘do not
agree’. Table 4 presents the odds ratios of positive school perception by immigration status.
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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Table 4: Models of logistic regression: odds ratios of school perceptions predicted by foreign-
born status, by country
Country Above average school
performance
Liking school Students
accept me
Belgium (Flemish) 0.87 1.41* 0.80
Denmark 1.15 1.13 0.97
Germany 1.16 0.95 1.14
Greece 0.73* 1.22 0.89
Iceland 1.49* 1.07 0.95
Ireland 1.00 1.01 0.74*
Italy 0.65** 1.07 0.88
Portugal 1.56** 1.27 1.02
Scotland 1.13 1.15 0.74*
Spain 1.06 1.92*** 0.78*
Sweden 1.32 0.87 1.19
Wales 1.18 1.14 0.66*
*p<0.05; ** p<0.01; ***p<0.001
All analyses are controlled for gender, age and family affluence
Findings presented in table 4 suggest that different aspects of school life are perceived
differently in different countries. Foreign-born children in Iceland (significant) and Sweden
(not significant) were more likely to perceive their school performance as above average.
Foreign-born children in Greece and Italy, on the other hand, were significantly less likely to
perceive their school performance to be above average. In all other countries foreign-born
children did not differ from their native peers. In Belgium and Spain foreign-born children
were much more likely to report that they like school, but no such differences were found in
the remaining 10 countries. Lastly, in Ireland, Scotland, Spain and Wales foreign-born
children were less likely to agree that other students accept them as they are, but in all other
countries this pattern did not emerge.
Involvement in risk behaviours
Risk behaviours could be the outcome of poor family and peer relationships and of poor
school perceptions but are also predictors of poor academic performance and poor mental and
physical health among other adverse outcomes. HBSC includes many questions on
involvement in risk behaviours, of which five are presented here.
Violence
Children were asked: “During the past 12 months, how many times were you in a physical
fight?” with answering categories: ‘I have not been in a physical fight’, ‘1 time’, ‘ 2 times’,
‘3 times’, ‘4 times or more’. This question was dichotomized to ‘never been in a fight’ vs. ‘1
time or more’.
Bullying
Following an short explanatory introduction, children were asked: “how often have you been
bullied at school in the last couple of months?” with answering categories: ‘I haven’t been
bullied at school at the past couple of months’, ‘it has only happened once or twice’, ‘2 or 3
times’, ‘about once a week’, ‘several times a week’. Children were also asked “how often
have you taken part in bullying another student(s) at school in the last couple of months?”
with answering categories: ‘I haven’t bullied other student(s) at school at the past couple of
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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months’, ‘it has only happened once or twice’, ‘2 or 3 times’, ‘about once a week’, ‘several
times a week’. The questions were dichotomized to ‘more than twice’ vs. ‘twice or less’.
Smoking
Children were asked “How often do you smoke tobacco at present?” with answering
categories: ‘every day’, at least once a week, but not every day’, ‘less than once a week’, ‘I
do not smoke’. This question was dichotomized to ‘weekly or more’ vs. ‘less than weekly’.
Alcohol use
Children were asked “Have you ever had so much alcohol that you were really drunk? with
answering categories: ‘no, never’; ‘yes, once’, ‘yes, 2-3 times’, ‘yes, 4-10 times’, ‘yes, more
than 10 times’. The questions was dichotomized to ‘twice or more’ (presented as ‘been
drunk’) vs. ‘never or once’.
Table 5 presents the odds ratios of involvement in risk behaviours by immigration status.
Table 5: Models of logistic regression: odds ratios of involvement in risk behaviours
predicted by foreign-born status, by country
Country Was in a
fight
Been
bullied
Bullied
others
Weekly
smoking
Been
drunk
Belgium (Flemish) 1.24 0.89 1.54 1.10 0.93
Denmark 1.20 0.87 1.36 0.88 0.37***
Germany 1.93*** 0.79 0.93 0.90 1.27
Greece 1.56** 0.89 0.69* 0.87 1.60*
Iceland 0.78 0.70 0.44 0.64 0.88
Ireland 1.00 1.39* 1.24 1.13 0.85
Italy 1.59** 1.12 1.89** 0.83 1.07
Portugal 1.13 1.33 1.38 1.08 1.10
Scotland 1.02 1.44* 1.05 1.24 0.92
Spain 1.27** 1.98*** 1.67*** 0.65* 1.08
Sweden 1.50* 1.23 2.53*** 1.31 1.05
Wales 0.79 1.30 1.03 0.60 0.54**
*p<0.05; ** p<0.01; ***p<0.001
All analyses are controlled for gender, age and family affluence
As presented in table 5, foreign-born children in Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Sweden
were more likely to be involved in a physical fight; foreign-born children in Ireland, Scotland
and Spain were more likely to report that they have been bullied; foreign-born children in
Italy, Spain and Sweden were more likely to report bullying others; and foreign-born children
in Greece were more likely to report a history of drunkenness. However, fewer foreign-born
children in Greece reported bullying others, fewer foreign-born children in Spain reported
weekly smoking, and fewer foreign-born children in Wales and Denmark reported history of
Drunkenness. No other significant differences between foreign-born children and their native
peers emerged.
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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Limitations
The HBSC study provides a unique opportunity to gain a cross-national information on child
immigrants, through using similar methods and a standardized questionnaire a cross a range
of countries in different regions in Europe. Yet, the HBSC has its limitations. First and
foremost, the study is aimed at the general population and not at immigrant, resulting in a
rather low numbers of immigrant children in the study. The numbers of immigrants in the
sample do not allow us to stratify the international analysis by country of origin or to try to
understand cultural differences between different groups of immigrants. Collapsing countries
of origins hinders our understanding of potential conflicts between country of residence and
country of origin, and prevents us from making recommendations regarding specific ethnic
minorities. The situation analysis gives an overview at large, and does not allow for an in-
depth exploration of the complex phenomena of immigration. Some of these limitations are
addressed in the national case studies that are presented in this paper and provide a more in-
depth analysis in these countries. Lastly, the study is based on self-reporting and this can be
prone to social desirability bias.
National initiatives
The cross-national analyses presented so far are limited to the mandatory HBSC questionnaire
and to a single definition of immigrant status (foreign-born children) that was common to all
12 countries. However, five countries have provided more in-depth, varied and complicated
analysis of adolescent migrants’ health, based mainly on HBSC national data sets. These
national case studies provide an opportunity to learn more about the experiences of migrants
from different country of origins in the different countries, using the same study design. The
more in-depth data that exist in those countries also allows expanding the definition of
immigrant children, to include first generation migrants, second generation migrants and 1.5
generation migrants in one country (Spain). The precise definitions used in each country are
stated in each case study.
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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Case study 1: Iceland
Cultural and linguistic predictors of difficulties in school and risk
behavior among adolescents of foreign descent in Iceland
Thoroddur Bjarnason
Introduction
In the second half of the twentieth century the population of Iceland doubled from about
140,000 inhabitants in 1950 to about 280,000 in 2000 (Statistics Iceland, 2009a). This
population growth was almost entirely due to natural population growth, as immigration
remained very low througout this period. In 2000, the proportion of foreign citizens in the
national population was 2.6%, compared to 1.9% in 1950 (Statistics Iceland, 2009b). In the
first eight years of the 21st century Iceland experienced a surge in immigration, in large part
due to the free movement of labour with the establishment of the European Economic Area in
2004 (EFTA 2008; European Commission, 2008). By 2008, the proportion of foreign citizens
in Iceland had risen to 7.4% and a total of 14.3% of the Icelandic population were either first
or second generation immigrants, or had at least one foreign parent (Statistics Iceland, 2009c).
The reaction of Icelanders towards immigrants has generally been rather positive. For
instance, a 2005 Gallup survey found that 19% of Icelanders aged 15–75 believed that
immigration from other countries had raised their own living standards, while only 5%
believed that their living standards had deteriorated because of immigration (Ragnarsdóttir,
Árnason and Thorvaldsson, 2005). However, there are some indications that adolescents have
become less tolerant of immigrants in recent years. In 2003, about 41% of 14–16 year old
students in Iceland believed that there were too many immigrants in the country, compared to
24% in 1997 (Sigfúsdóttir et al., 2005). There is also some qualitative evidence that suggests
that adolescents of foreign descent in Iceland are more likely to suffer from various
emotional, social and academic problems than their peers of Icelandic descent (Gyedu-
Adomako et al., 2000).
The objective of the current case study is to explore the situation of immigrant youth in
Iceland. While Polish immigrants were 4% of the Icelandic population in 2008 and accounted
for almost half of the immigrant population, immigrants were also found from 124 other
countries (Statistics Iceland, 2009). The case study will examine well-being in school and risk
behaviors among students who are foreign-born, have parents of foreign origin, or live in a
household where a foreign language is spoken. In particular, the case study will attempt to
establish differences in student outcomes by world region of origin and the role of language in
such outcomes.
Methods and data
The current case study is based on data from the HBSC survey in Iceland (Bjarnason and
Jonsson, 2006; Currie et al., 2008). Standardized questionnaires were administred to all 6th,
8th, and 10th grade students who were present in class on the day of administration in
February and March 2006. This research is based on the responses of 3,949 students in the
10th grade, which is 83% of all registered 10th grade students in the school year 2005–2006.
Table 1 shows that 93% of 10th grade students were born in Iceland and 7% abroad. This is
consistent with official statistics indicating that 7% of all 15 year old residents of Iceland in
December 2005 were born abroad (Statistics Iceland, 2009c). About 91% of the respondents
said that both their parents were born in Iceland but 6% said that at least one of their parents
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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was born in a Western country (Western Europe, United States, Canada, Australia or New
Zealand). Eastern European countries are defined as a separate category, since the recent
wave of immigration from these countries may be a source of some stigma towards students
of Eastern European origin. About 1% of the students said that at least one parent was born in
an Eastern European country and 2% said that at least one parent was born in Central or South
America, Asia or Africa. Icelandic was the only language spoken in 95% of all homes while
foreign languages were spoken in part or exclusively in 5% of the homes.
Table 1: Origin of students
Country of birth
Iceland 93.3%
Abroad 6.7%
Origin of parents
Both parents born in Iceland 91.0%
Parent(s) born in Western country1) 6.3%
Parent(s) born in Eastern Europe 1.2%
Parents born elsewhere2) 2.1%
Language spoken in home
Icelandic 94.9%
Other languages 5.1%
Difficulties in school
Do not like school 4.6%
Other students are unkind 6.4%
Bullied in past month 12.4%
Risk behaviours
Daily smoking 11.3%
Drunkenness 43.2%
Sexual intercourse 32.4%
1) Western Europe, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
2) Africa, Asia, Central- and South-America.
Three measures of problems in school are used in this study. Students were asked how they
liked school and 5% reported that they didn’t like it very much or that they didn’t like it at all.
Students were also asked if they thought most of their fellow students were kind and helpful
and 6% disagreed or strongly disagreed. Finally, 12% of the students reported that they had
been bullied in the past couple of months.
Three measures of risk behaviours were also included in the study. Students were asked how
often they smoked tobacco and 11% reported that they smoked every day. About 43%
reported having been drunk in their lifetime. Finally, 32% of the respondents indicated that
they had ever had sexual intercourse.
Results
Table 2 shows the proportion of students experiencing problems in school by different
categories of origin. There are no significant differences between students born in Iceland and
those born abroad in the prevalence of disliking school, finding other students to be unkind or
having been bullied. However, it should be noted that this measure does not distinguish
between those born to foreign parents and those born to Icelandic parents temporarily living
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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abroad. There is also no difference in the proportion of students who find other students to be
unkind by parents’ country of birth. Those who have two parents born in Iceland do like
school significantly more and are significantly less likely to have been bullied. Importantly,
while having parents of foreign descent is associated with more adverse outcomes, the region
of the world from which the parents originate does not appear to matter in this respect.
Table 2 finally shows that adolescents living in a home where a foreign language is spoken
are twice or three times as likely to dislike school, find other students to be unkind or to have
been bullied. These differences are statistically significant for all school-related outcomes.
Table 2: Proportion of students experiencing problems in school
Dislike
school Other students
unkind Bullied in past
month
Country of Birth
Iceland .046 .063 .121
Abroad .043 .074 .150
Origin of parents
Both parents born in Iceland .042* .062 .110***
Parent born in Western country1) .064 .078 .272***
Parent born in Eastern Europe .068 .114 .295***
Parent born elsewhere2) .082 .095 .256***
Language at home
Icelandic .044** .060*** .113***
Other language .092** .150*** .325***
* p < .05 ** p < .01 *** p < .001
1) Western Europe, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
2) Africa, Asia, Central- and South-America.
Table 3 shows the results of a logistic regression analysis of the same variables as were shown
in Table 2. This shows that adolescents in homes where other languages are spoken are 2.2
times as likely to dislike school, 2.8 times as likely to think other students are unkind and 3.1
times as likely to have been bullied. Children whose parents were born in Western Europe,
US, Candam Australia or New Zealand are 2.3 times as likely to have been bullied.
Table 3: Odds ratios of experiencing problems in school, best model
Dislike
school Other students
unkind Bullied in past
month
Boy --- --- 1.27*
Born Abroad --- --- ---
Parent born in Western country1) --- --- 2.30***
Parent born in Eastern Europe --- --- ---
Parent born elsewhere2) --- --- ---
Iclandic not spoken at home 2.24** 2.79*** 3.10***
* p. < .05 ** p. < .01 *** p. < .001
1) Western Europe, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
2) Africa, Asia, Central- and South-America.
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Table 4 shows that adolescent risk behavior does not significantly differ between those born
in Iceland or abroad. However, students who have two parents born in Iceland are
significantly less likely to smoke daily, have been drunk or have had sexual intercourse
compared to to first- and second-generation immigrant children.
Table 4: Proportion of students engaged in risk behaviors
Daily
smoking Been drunk Sexual
intercourse
Country of Birth
Iceland .111 .428 .322
Abroad .128 .455 .326
Origin of parents
Both parents born in Iceland .104*** .424** .317***
Parent born in Western country1) .215*** .485 .406**
Parent born in Eastern Europe .178 .523 .209
Parent born elsewhere2) .275*** .608** .413***
Language at home
Icelandic .103*** .427** .315***
Other language .297*** .536** .549***
* p. < .05 ** p. < .01 *** p. < .001
1) Western Europe, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
2) Africa, Asia, Central- and South-America.
Table 5 shows the results of a logistic regression analysis of the same variables as shown in
Table 4. The results show that adolescents in homes where language other than Icelandic is
spoken are 3.1 times as likely to smoke daily, 1.4 times as likely to have been drunk and 2.3
times as likely to have had sexual intercourse by the end of compulsory school. In addition
the students are 1.7-2.0 times more likely to have done these things, if they have parents born
in Africa, Asia, Central- or South-America. Girls who have at least one parent born in a
Western country are 2.4 times as likely to smoke daily and 1.5 times as likely to have had
sexual intercourse than their counterparts who have two parents born in Iceland.
Table 5: Odds ratios of engaging in risk behaviors, best model
Daily
smoking Been drunk Sexual
intercourse
Girl --- 1.17* 1.39***
Born Abroad --- --- ---
Parent born in Western country1) --- --- ---
Parent born in Eastern Europe --- --- ---
- girl 2.43*** --- 1.52*
Parent born elsewhere2) 1.80* 1.97** 1.74*
Iclandic not spoken at home 3.07*** 1.38* 2.33***
* p. < .05 ** p. < .01 *** p. < .001
1) Western Europe, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
2) Africa, Asia, Central- and South-America.
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Discussion
The results of this study show that adolescents of foreign descent in Iceland experience more
difficulties in school and are more likely to engage in risk behaviors. Difficulties in school
appear to be associated with being of foreign origin in general rather than being from
culturally distant or dissimilar cultures. In contrast, while adolescents of foreign descent are
more likely to engage in risk behaviors, students from more distant cultures appear to be
particularly affected.
Children living in homes where a foreign language is spoken are particularily likely to
experience problems in school and engage in risk behaviors. Their school status is worse that
would have been expected from studies conducted in the other Nordic countries (Liebkind et
al., 2004; Vedder and Virta, 2005; Westin, 2003), the US (Glick and White, 2004) and
Australia (Cardak and McDonald, 2004). Similar to Russian immigrants in Israel (Isralowitz
and Slonim-Nevo, 2002), students of foreign descent in Iceland are more likely to use drugs.
This is contrary to results obtained in Canada (Ma, 2002), Australia (Davies and McKelvey,
1998) and the US (Blake et al., 2001). Similar to the US, they are more likely to engage in
risky sexual behavior (Jeltova et al., 2005) and to be bullied (Yu et al, 2003).
These complex patterns of results from previus studies suggest that in addition to the social,
economic and psychological strain associated with immigrant status, research should take into
account the normative behaviors in the country of origin as well as in the country of
residence. In this respect it is surprising that this study does not find differences in risk
behavior by country of origin but rather by lingustic status. Disliking school and poor
relations with other students appear to be associated with linguistic problems and those who
are not native speakers of Icelandic appear to be at a substantially greater risk of being
bullied. Qualitative research based on focus group interviews of adolescents of Icelandic and
foreign descent in Iceland similarly revealed that language is a crucial device for talking about
problems associated with immigration and adjustment of both Icelanders and immigrants to
the emergent multicultural society (Bjarnason and Gunnarsson, 2008).
These strong effects of language could be indicative of different processes. First, limited
adolescent proficiency in the Icelandic language is likely to be a direct cause of difficulties in
school work as well as difficulties in establishing and maintaining relations with peers.
Second, limited proficiency by parents in Icelandic may also, in a more subtle way, result in
weaker ties between the home and the school as well as parents being less likely to benefit
from public health prevention efforts directed at parents. Third, it is possible that the language
spoken in the home is simply a better measure of immigrant status and social marginalization
than country of birth or origin of parents. These results strongly suggest that the role of
linguistic competence must be clearly addressed in public policy in the field of immigration as
well as, more generally, in the field of public health. Future research must further explore
these different potential links between language and risk behaviors.
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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Case study 2: Ireland
Inequalities in health among migrant school children in Ireland -
case study for Ireland
Michal Molcho, Colette Kelly, Aoife Gavin and Saoirse Nic Gabhainn
Introduction
In the last two decades, Ireland has experienced a change in migration trends, with more
immigration than emigration. In 2006 15% of the population residing in Ireland were foreign-
born. The national profile of immigrants in Ireland reveals that about half of the non-Irish
Nationals are from the UK and the rest are from countries in central and Eastern Europe, the
Americas, Asia and Africa. Of the child population (under 18 yeas of age), 6.1% are non-Irish
nationals. Additional to non-Irish nationals, there is another ethnic minority group in Ireland:
the Travelling community (or Travellers). Irish Travellers are an indigenous minority who
have been part of Irish society for centuries. They have a value system, language, customs and
traditions that make them an identifiable group both to themselves and to others. Their
distinctive lifestyle and culture, based on a nomadic tradition and emphasising the importance
of the extended family, sets them apart from settled people. According to the 2006 Census,
there were 22,435 Travellers living in Ireland, comprising 0.5% of the population in the
country. This figure may be an underestimation of the actual number of Travellers due to
potentially lower response rates in this population. Overall, the Travelling community has
lower level of education, substantially lower life expectancy and higher rates of
unemployment (Nolan and Maitre, 2008). This case study presents the health status and health
behaviours of child migrants and Traveller children living in Ireland. The case study utilises
data collected in the 2006 Irish Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children study.
The case study presented here is based on the second Irish national report, “Inequalities in
health among school-aged children in Ireland” (Molcho et al., 2008). This report explored
four groups in the Irish society that are deemed more disadvantaged. The report covered
issues of importance identified in the Irish National Health Promotion Strategy (Department
of Health and Children, 2000), and the Health Strategy: Quality and Fairness (Department of
Health and Children, 2001). These include general health, smoking, use of alcohol and other
substances, diet and food behaviour, physical activity and sedentary behaviour, injuries and
bullying.
Methodology
The Irish HBSC study was carried out using a two-stage sampling process was conducted to
achieve a representative sample of 10-17 year old school children. A total of 10,334 school
children were sampled from 215 schools, with response rate of 63.1% at the school level.
This case study focuses on Traveller children and immigrant children. Travellers were
identified using a simple question “are you a member of the Traveller community?”. Children
answered ‘yes’ to that question, and whose parents were from Ireland or the UK were defined
as members of the Travelling community. In the 2006 survey, 233 (2.3%) of respondents
were identified as Travellers. Children were identified as immigrants if they were either born
outside of Ireland or if both parents were born outside of Ireland. In the 2006 HBSC survey,
562 (5.4%) of respondents were immigrants according to this definition. In order to take into
account any potential differences between the immigrant population, the Traveller’ population
and the general population in terms of geographical location, or socio-demographic
characteristics, immigrant children were matched to a sub-sample of respondents. All cases in
the comparison group were matched by gender, age and social class, resulting in a sub-sample
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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with similar socio-demographic characteristics. Where possible, the matching was done
within the same classroom (69% of both groups). When this was not possible, a matched
respondent was sought within the same school (8% of both groups) or within the geographical
region (23% of both groups). In addition to the general immigrant sample this report also
presents a breakdown of the immigrant group into: those for whom either parent is from the
UK (UK immigrants), and those for whom neither parent is from the UK (non-UK
immigrants). The two groups are similar in size (276 UK immigrants and 286 non-UK
immigrants).
Findings
Socio-demographic status
Table 1 presents the socio-demographic distribution of the HBSC sample, the immigrant
sample and that of the immigrants’ sub-groups and the Travellers’ sample. No gender
differences are evident among the groups but the non-UK immigrants and Travellers are
slightly younger than the HBSC sample and the UK immigrant sample. In relation to social
class, the non-UK immigrants have a smaller proportion of children in social class 3-4,
Travellers have a smaller proportion of children in social class 1-2, and both groups have a
much higher proportion who had not reported on their parental occupation and therefore have
missing data for social class. However, the bigger demographic difference between UK and
both non-UK immigrants and Travellers is in relation to location of residence. Only 35% of
UK immigrants leave in urban areas compared to 71% of the non-UK immigrants and 61% of
Travellers. Thus, all further analyses are controlled for location of residence.
Table 1: Socio-demographic distribution of the HBSC Ireland sample compared to the
immigrant and Travellers sample (%)
General
sample
Travellers All
Immigrants
UK
immigrants
Non-UK
immigrants
Gender Boys 51 52 51 49 53
Girls 49 48 49 51 47
Age group 10-11 years 13 23 11 11 11
12-14 years 48 46 50 46 54
15-17 years 39 31 39 43 35
Social class SC1-2 29 18 30 28 31
SC3-4 40 32 34 43 26
SC5-6 19 22 18 18 18
Missing SC 12 28 18 11 25
Urban/Rural Urban 42 61 53 35 71
Rural 58 39 47 65 29
N 10101 233 561 276 286
Self-rated general health
Children were asked a number of general health and life satisfaction questions. They were
asked to rate their health; to report how they feel about their lives at present; to report on a
scale of 0 to 10 how they feel at the moment and to report on the frequency with which they
experience headaches.
A third of immigrant children (35%) reported that their health is excellent (34% of matched
group). Significantly fewer immigrant children reported that they are very happy with the
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lives at present (43%, compared to 53% of matched group; p<0.001). The percentage of
immigrants reporting high life satisfaction was lower compared to the matched group (74%
and 80% respectively; p<0.05), especially among boys (75% of immigrant boys compared to
83% of matched group; p<0.05). More immigrant children reported weekly headaches (29%)
compared to the matched group (22%). No differences were evident between Travellers and
the matched group in relation to self-reported health and feeling very happy, but fewer
immigrants reported high life satisfaction (71% vs. 82% of matched group, p<0.01) and more
Travellers reported frequent headaches (33% vs. 21% of matched group, p<0.01) (table 2).
Table 2: Behaviours and attitudes among immigrant and Travellers sample compared to
matched groups (%)
UK Matched Non-UK Matched Travellers Matched
General health
Excellent health 29 34 40 34 38 38
Very happy 42* 52 44* 53 51 53
High life satisfaction 71** 81 76 79 71** 82
Headaches at least weekly 30** 19 27 24 33** 21
Risk Behaviours
Current smokers 19 19 11* 16 25* 17
Alcoholic drink in the last month 31 25 17* 25 32*** 18
Ever been “really drunk” 35 30 22** 35 40** 26
Cannabis in the last 12 months 18 13 9* 15 21** 12
Food and dietary behaviours
Fruit more than daily 18 20 33** 22 22 18
Vegetables more than daily 17 20 20 18 18 20
Sweets at least daily 38 37 30 32 43 35
Soft drinks at least daily 24 21 25 22 34* 26
No breakfast on any weekday 20* 12 16 14 21** 12
Food poverty 19 15 16 15 28* 19
On a diet 17* 10 14 9 14* 8
Injuries, Fighting and Bullying
Injury in the last 12 months 40 41 36 41 43 49
Been bullied in the past couple of
months 30* 21 29 24 29 22
Bullying others in the past couple of
months 21 19 22 23 28 24
Fight in the past 12 months 38 36 35 42 50 46
School Perceptions
Liking school 67 71 76 72 58 66
Students enjoy being together 70* 79 69 73 77 81
Students are kind and helpful 62* 71 62 65 68 73
Other students accepting them as they
are 74* 83 72** 81 80* 86
Social relationships
Easy to talk to father 57 59 66 62 56 63
Easy to talk to mother 79 76 79 79 71* 80
3+ evenings with friends 55 53 56** 68 66 66
3+ same sex friends 86 90 79*** 92 83 90
* p < .05 ** p < .01 *** p < .001
All analyses are controlled for social classs and rural/urban status.
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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Further differences merge when comparing the immigrant sub-groups. Fewer UK immigrant
children reported that their health is excellent compared to non-UK immigrant children, and
more UK immigrant children reported frequent headaches. Overall, both UK and non-UK
immigrant children were less likely to report that they are very happy compared to their
respective matched group, but some different gender patterns emerged. Among UK
immigrant children, girls were less likely to report feeling very happy (38% compared to 53%
of matched, p<0.001), while among non-UK immigrant children, boys were substantially
different from the matched group (45% and 58% respectively, p<0.05). Additionally, fewer
UK immigrant children reported high life satisfaction (table 2).
Risk Behaviours
Children were asked a number of questions about their involvement in risk behaviours. They
were asked to report about their current smoking status; their frequency of alcohol
consumption; if they have ever been “really drunk”; and if they used cannabis in the last 12
months.
Overall, the involvement of immigrants in risk behaviours is similar to that of the matched
group. The only exception is that immigrant boys are less likely to report that they have been
‘really drunk’ compared to the matched boys (28% vs. 36%, p<0.05). Comparing the sub-
groups suggests that fewer Non-UK boys were involved in most risk behaviours compared to
their matched group and nearly twice as many Traveller children reported involvement in all
risk behaviours compared to the matched group (table 2).
Food and dietary behaviour
Children were asked a number of questions in relation to foodstuff consumption and dietary
behaviours. They were asked about daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, sweets and soft
drinks. Children were also asked to report if they had breakfast on weekdays, if they ever
went to school or to bed hungry because there was no food at home (food poverty) and if they
were on a diet.
About a quarter of Traveller children reported eating fruit more than once a day (22%, vs.
18% of matched group); 18% reported eating vegetables more than once a day (20% of
matched group); 43% reported eating sweets more than once a day (35% of matched group);
21% reported not having breakfast in any weekday (12% of matched group, p<0.01); 28%
reported that they experienced food poverty (19% of matched group, p<0.05); and 14%
reported that they are on a diet (8% of matched group, p<0.05).
A quarter of immigrant children (26%) reported eating fruits more than once a day (21% in
matched group) and 18% reported eating vegetables more than once a day (19% in matched
group). A third of immigrant children and matched children reported eating sweets more than
once a day and a quarter of both groups reported drinking soft drinks more than once a day.
More immigrant girls report that they do not have breakfast on weekdays (23% vs. 14% in
matched group, p<0.01) and that they are on a diet (21% vs. 12% in matched group, p<0.01).
Further differences are evident when comparing the immigrant sub-groups. More non-UK
immigrant children reported that they eat fruit more than once a day) and this difference was
particularly evident among non-UK immigrant girls (37% vs. 22% in matched, p<0.01). In
contrast, fewer UK immigrant girls report eating vegetables more than once a day (12%)
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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compared to matched (21%, p<0.05) and to non-UK immigrant girls (23%). Skipping
breakfast on weekdays was more common among UK-immigrant girls, with 26% reporting
that they never have breakfast on weekdays, compared to 11% in the matched group
(p<0.001). More non-UK immigrant girls reported that they are on a diet (24%) compared to
their matched group (15%, p<0.05).
Injuries and bullying
Children were asked to report if they had an injury that required medical attention in the past
12 months, if they were bullied or if they bullied others in school in the last couple of months
and if they had been in a physical fight in the past 12 months.
More immigrant children reported that they were bullied at least once in the last couple of
months (30%) compared to the matched group (23%, p<0.01). No other overall differences
were evident between immigrants and the matched group. Further differences emerged when
comparing the immigrant sub-groups. More UK immigrant children reported that they were
bullied in the last couple of months, with 29% of non-UK immigrant children reporting so
(24% of matched group, not significant). No significant differences were found between
Traveller children and the matched group, although slightly more Traveller children reported
being bullied and bullying others (see table 2).
Social context of health
Children were asked a number of questions about their perceptions of school life and their
relationships with their parents and peers, all which contribute to the social context of health
in children’s lives. In relation to school, children were asked to report how much they like
their school; if they agree that students in their classes enjoy being together; if they agree that
students in their classes are kind and helpful; and if they agree that other students in their
classes accept them as they are. In relation to relationship with parents, children were asked to
report how easy it is for them to talk to their father and how easy it is for them to talk to their
mother. With regard to relationships with peers, children were asked to report how many
evenings per week they spend time with their friends; and how many same sex friends they
have.
Overall, immigrant children were less likely to report positive school perceptions. Fewer
immigrant girls reported that students in their classes enjoy being together (68% vs. 77% of
matched group, p<0.05); that students in their classes are kind and helpful (62% vs. 68% of
matched group, p<0.05); or that students in their classes accept them as they are (73% vs.
82% of matched group, p<0.001). When comparing the two immigrant sub-groups it becomes
apparent that fewer UK immigrant children reported positive school perceptions, but fewer
children in both groups reported that other children accept them as they are. Fewer Traveller
children reported positive school perception on all measures compared to the matched group,
but none of these differences were statistically significant.
Immigrant children were also less likely to report positive peer relationships: fewer immigrant
children reported spending three or more evenings with friends (53% vs. 69% of matched
group, p<0.05); and having three or more friends of the same sex (83% vs. 91% of matched
group, p<0.001). Among non-UK immigrants, fewer children reported positive relationships
with their peers: fewer non-UK immigrant children reported spending three or more evenings
with friends; and having three or more friends of the same sex. This pattern was most evident
among girls.
Unlike immigrant children, Traveller children were less likely to report that they find it easy
to talk to their parents, and less likely to report having 3 or more same-sex friends (table 2).
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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Conclusions
The findings are very different for the three groups. UK immigrants are less positive about
school and are more involved in risk behaviours compared to their native peers, non-UK
immigrants are less likely to report having many friends or spending time with their friends
compared to their native peers, and Traveller children report poorer health and high rates of
involvement in risk behaviours compared to the settled community. The only aspect of school
life that seems less positive among non-UK immigrants compared to their native peers relates
to the feeling that other students accept them as they are, whereas far fewer of the Traveller
children report positive school perceptions. Poor dietary habits are more common among UK
immigrants and Traveller children (compared to their native peers and to the settled
community respectively). However, findings on non-UK immigrants and on Traveller
children suggest that they are experiencing social exclusion, an experience that is known to
have an affect on mental health and well being.
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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Case study 3: Italy
At-risk behavior in immigrant and non-immigrant early
adolescents: immigrant paradox?2
Massimo Santinello*, Francesca Cristini**, Luca Scacchi**, Gianmarco Altoè*,
Michela Lenzi*, Daniela Baldassari***
Background for the study
The number of immigrants in Italy have been permanently increasing during recent years: at
the 1st January 2008 the number of immigrants in Italy was 3,432,651; compared to the
previous year, the number of immigrants increased by 493,729 (+16.8%). The proportion of
immigrants increased from 2.7% at the end of 2002, to 5.8% at the beginning of 2008
(ISTAT, 2008). The increase in the number of immigrant youth is consistent with the
increasing number of immigrant population. As of 1st January 2008, the number of underage
youth was about 767,000, accounting for 22.3% of the immigrant population in Italy. Most of
them, about 457,000, were born in Italy (about 64,000 during 2007; +10.9% compared to the
previous year), and are second generation immigrants. The remainders were immigrant youth
who arrived in Italy for the re-unification of the family, as their parents arrived in Italy earlier.
Recently, approaches to adolescent development (for example: Schwartz et al., 2007)
underlined the importance of testing the applicability of models of risk factors, protective
factors and assets for adolescents from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This research
question is particularly relevant in Italy because of the growing level of immigration and the
growing birth rate of children from immigrant families (Lo Coco, 2000; ISTAT, 2008;
Caritas/ Migrantes, 2008).
In this case study we focused on analyzing risk behaviors of immigrant youth in particular as
regard to tobacco use. Findings from previous studies about risk behavior of immigrant youth
are inconsistent. Some studies indicated that immigrant youth reported higher risk for
problem behaviors than non immigrants (e.g., Bengi-Arslan, Verhulst, & van der Ende, 1997;
Pawliuk et al., 1996). Recently, other studies conducted mainly in North American and
Canada showed that immigrant youth reported better adaptation and less problem behaviors
than their national peers, in spite of the fact that they lived under challenging conditions and
higher socioeconomic risk. This phenomenon was called ‘‘immigrant paradox’’ (e.g., Fuligni,
1998; Garcìa Coll, 2005).
We focused particularly on tobacco use, as a relevant at-risk behavior during early
adolescence and adolescence to compare immigrant and Italian native adolescents.
Additionally, we aimed to test the influence of risk and protective factors for tobacco use
among immigrants and Italian native adolescents. On one hand, we analyzed the influence of
the quality of communication with parents and of parental monitoring on tobacco use;
previous studies showed that these variables are protective factors against tobacco use
(Dishion & Loeber, 1985; Duncan, Duncan, & Hops, 1994; Hill et al., 2005). On the other
hand, we analyzed the influence of family socio-economic status on tobacco use, because
research outlined that low socio-economic level is a risk factor for tobacco use (Chen,
Matthews, & Boyce, 2002).
2 This study will be published as a chapter of an Italian book. The original italian chapter was devolped
by Massimo Santinello*, Francesca Cristini**, Luca Scacchi**, Gianmarco Altoè*, Michela Lenzi*,
Daniela Baldassari***
* University of Padova,
** University of Valle d’Aosta,
*** CRRPS – Regional Center for Health Promotion, Verona)
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Objectives of the case study include:
1) to examine whether immigrant adolescents are less likely to use tobacco when compared
with Italian-born adolescents of Italian-born parents (as it is hypothesized by the immigrant
paradox);
2) to examine whether immigrant status moderates the association between Family Affluence
Scale (FAS) and tobacco use;
3) to examine whether characteristics of adolescent-parent relationship (i.e., parental
monitoring, quality of adolescent-parents communication) moderate the association between
immigrant status and tobacco use.
Method
Sample
We used HBSC data collected in the Veneto region (Italy)3. The sample was composed of
6,744 students (Ages: 11, 13, 15). The average age of each of the three age groups is: 11.93
years (N = 2,097); 13.98 years (N = 2,067); and 16.07 years (N = 2,580). The 11- and 13-
year-old cohorts were in middle schools and the 15-year-olds were in high schools.
The sample consists of 3,398 boys (50.4%) and 3,346 girls (49.6%). For the present study, we
excluded students who could not be categorized for immigrants status. The sample for the
present study was comprised of 6,116 students (male=50.2%, female= 49.8%;
primary=30.6%, secondary 2=30.7%, secondary 4=38.7%). As regard to immigrant status, the
sample was divided into the four groups shown in the table 1.
Table 1. Groups of students based on birth Country of student and parents.
Students born in Italy
from both Italian
native parents
Students born in Italy
from one Italian
native parent and one
foreign-born parent
Students born in Italy
from both foreign-
born parents
Students foreign-
born from at least
one foreign born
parent
N=5,343 N=347 N=92 N=334
Measure
We analyzed the following variables:
- Demographics (age and gender) and immigrant status. Students reported their sex
and year of school (grade). Native or immigrant status was based on the Country
where the child and his/her parents were born, analyzed by the following items:
“Were you born in Italy?”, “In which country was your mother born?”, “In which
country was your father born?”.
- Family Affluences. It was measured by the Family Affluence Scale (FAS; Currie et al.
2008; Wardle, Robb, & Johnson, 2002).
- Tobacco use. We used three items, each recoded as dichotomous item to respectively
distinguish: students who have tried to smoke versus students who have never tried to
3 As regard to the Veneto Region the research was conducted by the Centro Regionale di
Riferimento per la Promozione della Salute for the Azienda ULSS 20 - Veneto Region, in collaboration
with University of Padova, and granted by the “Assessorato alle Politiche Sociali” and by the
“Assessorato alle Politiche Sanitarie” of the Veneto Region.
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smoke; students who smoked recently versus students who did not smoked recently;
students who smoke daily versus students who do not smoked daily.
- Communication with parents. We used two items “How easy is it for you to talk to
the following persons about things that really bother you?”, respectively for mother
and for father.
- Parental monitoring. It was assessed by five items, respectively for mother and for
father.
-
Analysis
Differences in terms of risk and protective factors for tobacco use (family affluence,
communication with parents and parental monitoring) between the 4 groups were compared
using ANOVA and χ2 statistics. To evaluate the influence of immigrant status on tobacco use,
and to test if this relation is attributable to other characteristics (family affluence,
communication with parents and parental monitoring), a series of logistic regression equations
were conducted.
Results
Descriptive analysis (table 2) indicated statically significant differences between the four
groups with regards to:
- FAS (F=21.15; p<.001), indicating lower levels of FAS for the group 4 (students
foreign born from at least one foreign born parent) and for the group 3 (students born in Italy
from both foreign born parents);
- parental monitoring (for father: F=13.84; p<.001; for mother: F=26.41; p<.001),
indicating lower levels of monitoring for the group 4 (students foreign born from at least one
foreign born parent) and for the group 3 (students born in Italy from both foreign born
parents);
We did not find significant difference between the 4 groups with regards to communication
with parents.
Table 2. Differences between the 4 groups as regard to FAS, parental monitoring,
communication with parents.
1.Students
b
orn in Italy
from both
Italian
native
parents
2.Students
born in
Italy from
one Italian
native and
one
foreign
born
parent
3.Students
born in
Italy from
both
foreign
born
parents
4.Students
foreign
born from
at least
one
foreign
born
parent
Mean 2.32 2.37 2.20 2.14
FAS SD 0.43 0.42 0.49 0.48
F=21.15**
*
Mean 2.35 2.32 2.08 2.19
Monitoring from father SD 0.54 0.55 0.63 0.57
F=13.84**
*
Mean 2.65 2.63 2.48 2.45
Monitoring from mother SD 0.39 0.38 0.45 0.46
F=26.41**
*
Communication with
father
Mean
rank 3059.02 3064.21 3007.11 3058.45 χ2=0.71
Communication with
mother
Mean
rank 3056.25 3028.02 3170.85 3095.26 χ2=0.09
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To evaluate the influence of immigrant status, risk and protective factors on tobacco use, we
conducted three logistic regression equations. None of these analyses showed statistically
significant differences on tobacco use levels between the four groups distinguishing
immigrant and non immigrant adolescents
Results of the three logistic regression equations were as follows:
1. In comparing students who have tried to smoke versus students which have never
tried to smoke (Table 3), we found that males were more likely to have tried to smoke
than female (B=-0.15; p<.05); older students were more likely to have tried to smoke
than younger students (for age 15: B=3.17; p<.001); students reporting higher FAS
were more likely to have tried to smoke (B=0.16; p<.05); students reporting higher
levels of communication with mother (B=-0.12; p<.05) and parental monitoring were
less likely to have tried to smoke (father: B=-0.29; p<.01; mother: B=-1.01; p<.001).
Table 3. Predictors of experimenting smoking: models of logistic regression.
95.0% CI for
Odd Ratio
B E.S. Wald df Sig. Odd
Ratio lower upper
gender (female) -0.15 0.07 4.61 1 p<.05 0.86 0.75 0.99
Age 887.92 2 p<.001
age (13) 1.64 0.13 167.28 1 p<.001 5.16 4.03 6.62
age (15) 3.17 0.12 666.54 1 p<.001 23.90 18.78 30.41
Immigran status 1.25 3 ns
Immigrant status
2. Students born in Italy
from one Italian native
parent and one foreign born
parent
0.14 0.14 0.97 1 ns 1.15 0.87 1.52
Immigrant status
3. Students born in Italy
from both foreign born
parents
-0.16 0.33 0.23 1 ns 0.86 0.45 1.63
Immigrant status
4. Students foreign born
from at least one foreign
born parent
0.03 0.16 0.03 1 ns 1.03 0.76 1.40
FAS 0.16 0.08 4.24 1 p<.05 1.18 1.01 1.38
Communication with
father -0.05 0.05 1.12 1 ns 0.95 0.87 1.04
Communication with
mother -0.12 0.05 6.73 1 p<.05 0.89 0.81 0.97
Monitoring from father -0.29 0.08 11.79 1 p<.01 0.75 0.64 0.88
Monitoring from mother -1.01 0.11 80.11 1 p<.001 0.36 0.29 0.45
2. In comparing students who smoked recently versus students who did not (table 4), we
found that older students were more likely to report smoking recently than younger
adolescents (for age 15: B=3.50; p<.001); and students reporting higher levels of
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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parental monitoring were less likely to report smoking recently (father: B=-0.20;
p<.05; mother: B=-1.15; p<.001). Analysis of the interaction between FAS and
immigrant status showed that the relation between FAS and tobacco use was different
for the 4 groups. As we can see in table 5, in group 4 (foreign-born students with at
least one foreign born parent) recent smokers reported higher family affluence than
students who did not smoke recently.
Table 4: Predictors of recent smoking: models of logistic regression.
95.0% CI for
Odd Ratio
B E.S. Wald df Sig. Odd
Ratio lower upper
gender (female) 0.03 0.08 0.17 1 ns 1.03 0.89 1.21
Age 509.70 2 p<.001
age (13) 2.019 0.21 89.86 1 p<.001 7.53 4.96 11.44
age (15) 3.50 0.21 290.25 1 p<.001 33.10 22.13 49.51
Immigrant status 7.51 3 ns
Immigrant status
2. Students born in Italy
from one Italian native
parent and one foreign born
parent
-0.02 0.95 0.00 1 ns 0.98 0.15 6.29
Immigrant status
3. Students born in Italy
from both foreign born
parents
-0.939 2.32 0.16 1 ns 0.39 0.00 37.08
Immigrant status
4. Students foreign born
from at least one foreign
born parent
-2.395 0.88 7.38 1 p<.01 0.09 0.02 0.51
FAS 0.025 0.10 0.07 1 ns 1.03 0.85 1.24
Communication with
father -0.046 0.05 0.76 1 ns 0.96 0.86 1.06
Communication with
mother -0.047 0.05 0.86 1 ns 0.95 0.86 1.05
Monitoring from father -0.20 0.09 4.64 1 p<.05 0.82 0.68 0.98
Monitoring from mother -1.148 0.12 89.84 1 p<.001 0.32 0.25 0.40
FAS * Immigrant status 8.01 3 p<.05
FAS * Immigrant status (2.
Students born in Italy from
one Italian native paren
t
and one foreign born
parent)
0.02 0.39 0.00 1 ns 1.02 0.47 2.20
FAS * Immigrant status (3.
Students born in Italy from
both foreign born parents)
0.20 1.02 0.04 1 ns 1.23 0.17 9.06
FAS * Immigrant status (4.
Students foreign born from
at least one foreign born
parent)
1.087 0.39 7.98 1 p<.01 2.97 1.40 6.31
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Table 5. Mean of FAS as regard to immigrant status and smoking recently.
Students born in
Italy from both
Italian native
parents
Students born in
Italy from one
Italian native
parent and one
foreign born
parent
Students born in
Italy from both
foreign born
parents
Students foreign
born from at
least one foreign
born parent
Smoking
recently 2.32 2.39 2.10 2.29
Not smoking
recently 2.32 2.37 2.22 2.11
3. In comparing students who smoke daily versus students who do not (table 6), we
found that older students were more likely to smoke daily than younger ones (age 15:
B=3.56; p<.001); students reporting higher levels of maternal monitoring were less
likely to smoke daily (B=-1.05; p<.001). The interaction between FAS and immigrant
status showed that the relationship between FAS and daily tobacco use were different
for the 4 groups. As we can see in table 7, in group 4 (foreign-born students with at
least one foreign born parent) and group 3 (students born in Italy from both foreign
born parents), daily smokers have higher FAS than students who did not smoke daily.
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Table 6: Predictors of daily smoking: models of logistic regression
95.0% CI for
Odd Ratio
B E.S. Wald df Sig. Odd
Ratio lower upper
gender (female) -0.01 0.10 0.01 1 ns 1.00 0.81 1.21
age 276.52 2 p<.001
age (13) 1.59 0.35 21.01 1 p<.001 4.90 2.48 9.67
age (15) 3.56 0.33 119.68 1 p<.001 35.00 18.51 66.17
Immigrant status 7.15 3 ns
Immigrant status
2. Students born in Italy
from one Italian native
parent and one foreign born
parent
-0.26 1.29 0.04 1 ns 0.77 0.06 9.59
Immigrant status
3. Students born in Italy
from both foreign born
parents
-2.51 3.34 0.59 1 ns 0.08 0.00 55.90
Immigrant status
4. Students foreign born
from at least one foreign
born parent
-3.00 1.16 6.67 1 p<.01 0.05 0.01 0.49
FAS -0.20 0.13 2.61 1 ns 0.82 0.64 1.04
Communication with
father 0.05 0.07 0.51 1 ns 1.05 0.92 1.20
Communication with
mother 0.03 0.07 0.14 1 ns 1.03 0.90 1.17
Monitoring from father -0.23 0.12 3.72 1 ns 0.79 0.63 1.00
Monitoring from mother -1.05 0.15 48.25 1 p<.001 0.35 0.26 0.47
FAS * Immigrant status 8.32 3 p<.05
FAS * Immigrant status (2.
Students born in Italy from
one Italian native paren
t
and one foreign born
parent)
0.10 0.53 0.04 1 ns 1.11 0.39 3.13
FAS * Immigrant status (3.
Students born in Italy from
both foreign born parents)
1.03 1.42 0.53 1 ns 2.81 0.17 45.57
FAS * Immigrant status (4.
Students foreign born from
at least one foreign born
parent)
1.40 0.50 7.88 1 p<.01 4.07 1.53 10.84
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Table 7. Mean of FAS with regards to immigrant status and daily smoking
Students born in
Italy from both
Italian native
parents
Students born in
Italy from one
Italian native
parent and one
foreign born
parent
Students born in
Italy from both
foreign born
parents
Students foreign
born from at
least one foreign
born parent
Daily smokers 2.29 2.38 2.35 2.30
Not daily
smokers 2.32 2.38 2.20 2.13
Discussion
Findings from the present study revealed that the phenomenon called “immigrant paradox”
was not confirmed in relation to tobacco use among immigrant adolescents living in Italy. Our
study did not found lower levels of tobacco use among immigrant adolescents in comparison
with Italian native adolescence, as hypothesized by the “immigrant paradox” (Georgiades et
al., 2006; Harris, 2004).
We hypothesized a negative association between FAS and tobacco use (Chen et al., 2002) and
that this relationships were evident only for Italian born adolescents (Georgiades et al., 2006).
Our findings indicated that the association between family affluence and tobacco use was
evident only in relation to trying smoking, but not for recent or daily smoking, however, this
relationship was in the opposite direction to that hypothesized: students reporting higher FAS
were more likely to have tried to smoke. This positive relationship was found both for
immigrant and non-immigrant adolescents.
In relation to recent and daily smoking, the association between family affluence and tobacco
use differed by immigrant status: among foreign-born students with at least one foreign-born
parent, and among students born in Italy of two foreign-born parents, those reporting recent
and daily smoking report higher FAS than those did who did not report recent and daily
smoking.
Regarding the influence of relationships with parents on tobacco use (Dishion & Loeber,
1985; Duncan et al., 1994; Hill et al., 2005; Georgiades et al., 2006), our results showed that:
quality of communication with parents was a protective factor only for experimental tobacco
use. Parental monitoring was a protective factor for recent smoking and maternal monitoring
was a protective factor for daily smoking. The protective role of the relationships with parents
did not differ between immigrant and Italian native adolescents.
Several methodological limitations need to be considered in this case study, in particular: we
did not analyzed other variables that can influence tobacco use during adolescence, for
example, tobacco use by peers and parents, and acculturation strategies adopted by the
immigrant adolescents (Berry et al., 2006b); our data are not able to test the extent to which
our results apply uniformly across specific cultural or ethnic groups among immigrants; our
measure of family affluence was not a complete indicator of socio-economic level; this was a
cross-sectional study and we need to test our results using a longitudinal design. We can
hypothesize that short-lived economic adversity in the years after migration may not affect the
development of problem behavior, whereas prolonged economic hardship may have
detrimental effects for immigrant families and youth (Georgiades et al., 2006). We need to
test the effect of short-lived and prolonged economic hardship using longitudinal studies.
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Despite the limitations, this case study contributes to the analysis of the influence of
immigrant status on tobacco use and the influence of family and economic factors on tobacco
use among immigrant and non-immigrant adolescents. We found that the “immigrant
paradox” was not evident with regard to tobacco use for immigrant adolescents in Italy;
additionally, our results showed a clear protective influence of family level variables on
tobacco use. We did not found a strong influence of family affluence on tobacco use. These
results point out that immigrant status per se should not be considered as a risk or protective
factor; and hence it should not be used to orient selective prevention activities for tobacco use.
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Case study 4: Portugal
Nationality versus poverty: highlights and recommendations
regarding interventions with migrant adolescents in Portugal
based on findings from the HBSC survey
Margarida Gaspar de Matos;* Tania Gaspar* & Celeste Simões *
FMH/UTL & CMDT/IHMT/UNL
Background for the case study
Portugal is a country with historical relationships with some African countries and Brazil,
countries that use Portuguese as their official language (CPLP countries). Many migrants
from those countries live in Portugal, most of them living in very poor socio-economic
conditions, and in specific neighborhood with poor hygiene, health and social conditions.
Migrants are more prone to social and racial discriminations in several contexts, such as,
school context, work contexts and community contexts, this is often related to mental and
psychosocial problems.
The HBSC study, conducted in Portugal in 2002 and 2006 (Currie et al, 2000; Matos et al;
2002, 2003, 2006), revealed that adolescents with other nationalities besides Portuguese
reported inferior school results and involvement. This group feels unhappier, reports a more
distant communication with parents and engages in sexual intercourse more frequently,
namely unprotected sex and sex associated with alcohol and drugs use. Further analyses
suggested that the association of migrant status to poor well being, school failure and family
distance is mediated by poverty (Gaspar et al, 2005; Matos & Gaspar, 2003; Matos, Gaspar &
Gonçalves, 2004; Matos, Gonçalves & Gaspar, 2005).
Mental and physical health are interrelated, adolescents that report higher life satisfaction also
refer a better perception of physical health. Several personal and social issues, besides gender,
age and father socio-economic status (SES), seem to be associated with health perceptions
and happiness. Personal issues, (like health related behaviours, such as physical activity, food
intake and risk behaviours) seem to have more impact on health perceptions, and physical
complaints, while social issues (like social relationships in significant life contexts: family,
friends, classmates, school), seem to have more impact on perception of happiness. Family
affluence has a significant impact on feeling happy and on health perceptions (Simões, Matos,
Batista-Foguet, 2007). Several studies highlight the importance of these issues, described as
protective factors (Matos, Simões & Sacchi 2004).
Migrant adolescents living in Portugal
Specific HBSC related study, 2 waves 2002 and 2006
To characterize migrant adolescents’ positive health and health behaviours, we used HBSC
(Currie et al., 2000; Matos et al., 2003; Matos et al., 2006) two waves, 2002 (n= 6,131) and
2006 (n= 4,877) with a total sample, n=11,008 (6th, 8th and 10th grades). Of the total sample,
3.1% came from Portuguese speaking countries (African Countries and Brazil), without
Portuguese Nationality (CPLP). They were used to help identify differences between
Portuguese adolescents and African Portuguese-speaking adolescents living in Portugal. This
group was mainly of low-socio-economic status.
Bivariate analysis and simple associations were carried on between Nationality and a set of
positive health variables. For all psychological symptoms (feeling depressed or low, feeling
irritable or bad temper and feeling nervous) statically significant difference were found
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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between Portuguese adolescents and foreign adolescents from African countries or Brazil (see
tables 1-3).
Table 1. Feeling depressed or low – Differences between Portuguese and CPLP adolescents
(%)
Portuguese (n=9771) CPLP (n=309)
Once a week 15.2 20.1
Every week /every month 25.5 18.8
Rarely / never 59.3 61.2
(χ²= 10.21; d.f. = 2, p<.006). n=10,080
Table 2. Feeling irritability or bad temper – Differences between Portuguese and CPLP
adolescents (%)
Portuguese (n=9789) CPLP (n=313)
Once a week 16.4 21.7
Every week /every month 33.5 28.8
Rarely / never 50.0 49.5
(χ²= 7.17; d.f. = 2, p<.028). n=10,102
Table 3. Feeling nervous – Differences between Portuguese and CPLP adolescents (%)
Portuguese (n=9811) CPLP (n=312)
Once a week 23.1 21.5
Every week /every month 36.4 28.5
Rarely / never 40.5 50.0
(χ²= 12.13; d.f. = 2, p<.002). n=10,123
Foreign adolescents also tend to feel more often unsatisfied with their lives than Portuguese
adolescents. (table 4)
Table 4. Life Satisfaction – Differences between Portuguese and foreign adolescents (%)
Portuguese (n=9856) CPLP (n=314)
Unsatisfied 2.8 5.1
Satisfied 44.7 44.6
Very satisfied 52.5 50.3
(χ²= 5.72; d.f. = 2, p=.057). n=10,170
Qualitative in dept methodology - Focus groups
Focus groups were carried out, in order to get closer to migrant adolescent’s perspective,
professional’s perspectives (teachers, psychologists, nurses, social assistants) and parent’s
perspectives, (opinions, attitudes, speech and understanding about adolescent’s positive health
and health behaviours the influence of personal, social and economic issues). A total of 26
migrant Portuguese-speaking adolescents (African) aged between 13-19 years old; 22
professionals (health and education professionals working with migrant (African)
adolescents), and 6 parents (1 mother and 5 fathers migrant from African Portuguese speaking
countries) were included in this in-depth qualitative study. Nine focus groups from four areas
of Lisbon city were carried out (four adolescent groups, one parent group and four
professional groups). Taped focus group interviews were analysed and category definition and
codification carried on. Illustrative examples of each category are presented below.
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Family
“My mother works a lot, she left home at 6 am and arrives home at night but she cares about us”
(adolescent)
“ Most of them have single parent families, mothers work a lot, and an older sister often takes care
of the younger ones” (professional)
“They tend to have large families, lots of kids, grandmothers, uncles, stepfathers …” (professional)
“I can not talk to my daughter, we have different concepts. I try to communicate with her and she
always says that I am old fashioned.” (parent)
School
“At school, we feel discriminated. When we say that we live in this neighbourhood, everything goes
wrong” (adolescent)
“School it is not a protective factor … On the opposite, school seems to work like a exclusion
factor, they tend to leave school too soon, it is a big problem” (professional)
“Many times teachers build barriers against pupils, because they just don’t know what to do”
(professional)
“Violence it is a big problem, not just in the street but inside the school” (parent)
Peers group
“Friends are not important, I don’t have friends, and I just have some people that I know.”
(adolescent)
“They see the older ones breaking the social rules and they admire them. They want to be like them
in order to be accepted, to feel integrated” (professional)
“She always spends her leisure time with one friend or alone in her room” (parent)
Well-being
“ First they should take care of the younger ones, giving them places to play, to be happy, to feel
good instead of engaging in violence, substance use, and other risky things” (adolescent)
“The discrimination reinforces the negative image that they have about themselves (…) they lose
the hope that their life will ever be different” (professional)
“Our children know that they have “broken legs” since the beginning”; “They became very stressed
because they do not have documents, first they don’t exist, and then they became delinquents“
(parent)
Leisure time
“The worst thing is when we do not have anything to do” (adolescent)
“We do not have adequate structures for physical activities, neither leisure in the neighbourhood”
(professional)
“Our children became more and more connected with internet, TV … “; “They are “addicted” to the
street. Every parent has this worry.” (parent)
Substance use
“I feel more comfortable. It’s better to dance, and it’s better to talk with the girls.” (adolescent)
“Alcohol use is common (…) many people abuse of alcoholic drinks at home and in the
community. That is the adolescent's example.” (professional)
“Same adolescents left school, they have nothing to do. They traffic drugs, it is easy money… but
most of then do not use drugs.” (professional)
“We are always worried with our children. The problem is not the people from the neighbourhood,
the problem are those who come from other neighbourhoods and want to buy or sell drugs” (parent)
Violence
“Some boys ruin everything, break everything. They do not understand that it is important have a
good image” (adolescent)
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“They are aggressive among them, with the teachers, with parents and with themselves. It is
difficult to understand and control them” (professional)
“A black adolescent is a kind of condemned. Many adolescents feel anger. We are raising
delinquents, and we do not now what to do, or where to find help” (parent)
Sexual behaviours / HIV
“We get information among friends and in the internet, never with our parents”; “I feel ashamed if
my parents talk about that”; “If we can not learn at home, we should have sexual education at
school,” (adolescent)
“They start they sexual activity too young (…) we have many pregnant adolescents”, “pregnancy is
kind of an alternative to poor schooling and poor school expectancies (professional)
“All parents realize that HIV it is a big problem, we and all the society have to fight against that
huge problem”. (parent)
“Sexuality is a Taboo … it is something that we could not talk about, we just do … but we should
break this wall” (parent)
Belonging to an ethnic minority, specifically migrant adolescents coming from African
Portuguese-speaking countries and Brazil, and a low socio-economic status, are factors linked
with mental health problems and more risk behaviours. Those are fundamental risks to
address in health promotion research and intervention. However, at the moment, there is no a
specific intervention based on adequate skills prevention and promotion with these migrant
adolescents.
A “ migrant specific” HBSC based study
One health survey based on HBSC questions (Matos, Gonçalves & Gaspar, 2005) included
adolescents from severely deprived areas, in the suburbs of Lisbon. A global sample of 1,037
adolescents, mean age 15 years old, participated in the survey, 24.3% were foreigners, from
African Portuguese-speaking countries.
Results confirmed what was suggested during the National surveys: migrant status and a low
social and economic status are associated, and often co-exist with a higher level of adolescent
risk behaviours and these adolescents reveal feeling socially unsupported and unhappy. Other
in depth studies (Matos et al., 2002; Matos, Dadds & Barrett, 2006) suggested a co-
occurrence of poor physical health, risk behaviours (namely substance use) and poor mental
health, and stressed the importance of social settings, namely school ethos and family-school
links.
Conclusions
These Portuguese studies (Matos, 2005) suggest the need for a global community intervention
within adolescent contexts (family, school, community) in order to promote health knowledge
and personal and social skills that lead to healthy choices and lifestyles. The specific case of
poor adolescents living in poor neighbourhoods with mainly ethnic minorities, lacking
Portuguese language skills and facing increased social exclusion and social problems could
obviously be better addressed not merely from the point of view of preventing risk behaviours
but of promoting well being, a sense of belonging and social support and inclusion ( Matos,
Gonçalves & Gaspar, 2005).
Hobbies and other leisure activities like music, sports, drama, arts and dance have come to
constitute very important spheres of living and learning, emphasizing the importance of
leisure in adolescents’ life. Thus, leisure time activities have partly taken over educational
role formerly performed by schools and parents (Aittola, 1998). Further, it is well known that
leisure activities provide enriching opportunities for children to interact with peers (Telama et
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al, 2005), which are the most important socialization agents in physical activity. This entire
context suggests the relevance of a selective preventive intervention in order to create
alternatives to better cope with life (social exclusion, feeling unhappy, interpersonal
relationships) and search for well being, personal competence, and social participation.
Promotion of protective factors should be the essence of health promotion. For this current
conception contributed a lot the concept of resilience and the research beyond it, which had
privileged the search of protective factors and processes and self competence and self
regulation skills..
It seems that any individual preventive work must approach life contexts, to get an effective
decrease of risk, an activation of resources and the promotion of personal and social abilities.
Individuals that have these kinds of abilities present a greater capacity to adapt to different
situations and to deal with adversity (Matos, Simões & Sacchi, 2004; Simões,2005; Matos,
2005).
Belonging to an ethnic minority, specifically migrant adolescents coming from an African
Portuguese speaking country and Brazil (CPLP), and a low social and economic status, are
factors linked to mental health problems and more risk behaviours. Effectively, these are
fundamental risks to address in health promotion research and intervention. It is believed that
this issue must be mainly addressed from the perspective of promoting and assuring school
success, as the only way to cut in pieces ‘the snowball’ of “poverty-social exclusion- school
failure-health compromising behaviours- school drop out- under or un employment- social
exclusion-poverty ” (Gaspar et al., 2005; Matos, Gaspar & Gonçalves, 2004)
Recommendations
School and leisure time are a good starter point for cross-cultural and inter-cultural health
promotion. They foster the urges to creation of alternatives to coping with life (e.g. social
exclusion, stress, feeling depressed or low, irritable or nervous and lack of interpersonal
relationships) and look for well being and pleasure. Adolescents, parents, school, peers’ group
and community must be all together involved in such processes.
Such social and personal skills promotion programs, building on alternatives and positive
aspects of health and of life, are a way to help adolescents to:
- identify and solve problems
- manage interpersonal conflicts
- identify and manage emotions
- develop interpersonal communication
- struggle for personal rights
- resist peer pressure
- develop self- regulation skills
- choose and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
There is also a need of a global community intervention within the adolescent contexts
(family, school, community) in order to promote those personal and social skills. The final
aims are the promotion of well-being, competence, autonomy, and sense of responsibility,
sense of belonging and personal achievement, social participation and commitment. There are
specific issues for poor adolescents that live in poor neighbourhoods with mainly ethnic
minorities are in a stronger danger of social exclusion, discrimination, stigmatisation and
heavier social problems, highly related to mental health problems. All professionals involved
need adequate skills and training in order to be aware and to meet the specificity of these
target-populations.
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Case study 5: Spain
Background paper on migrants for Spain
Carmen Moreno, Antonia Jiménez-Iglesias, Francisco Rivera and Pilar
Ramos
Policies and practice for migrants in Spain
In Spain, the migratory policy defined by the Spanish Government is developed and put into
practice by the National Government through the Secretary of State for Immigration and
Emigration. According to the regulations with regards to this area in article 149.1 point 2 of
the Constitution, the National Government has exclusive jurisdiction over nationality,
immigration, emigration, aspects relating to foreign-nationals, right of asylum and measures
for integration.
In the case of the regulations, it is necessary to state that when the authorities know of a minor
with no adult of reference, and therefore, in a situation of complete abandonment, they are
forced by the Law of Minors (Law 1/1995, dated the 27th of January, with regards to the
protection of minors), to take charge of the said minor, taking on their guardianship, without
applying the status of foreign-national to the minor. The first step is to document such minors,
to obtain the child’s personal information and proceed with medical examinations to
determine their age. If the result of the examination indicates that the child is a minor, it is
necessary for the corresponding administration to have the documentation and accept the
guardianship of the child.
The Permanent Observatory of Immigration is attributed to the Ministry of Work and
Immigration, by means of the Secretary of State for Immigration and Emigration. This is a
collegiate body whose functions (laid out in Royal Decree 345/2001, date the 4th of April, by
which the Permanent Observatory of Immigration is regulated) include:
To act as a permanent body to collect, analyze and exchange quantitative and
qualitative information that arrives at the National Government with regards to
foreign nationals, immigration and asylum.
To gather, promote and guide the diffusion of the information obtained.
To promote, compile, share and distribute research, surveys, studies and publications.
To compile an annual report and periodic reports about the reality of immigration.
The creation and maintenance of a statistical database.
To compile reports and provide statistical data for Europe and at the international
level.
Another body is the Large Enterprise Unit, responsible for the administration of the
authorizations for residence, temporary residence and work for others, and temporary
residence and work within the framework of a transnational services, which are requested for
highly qualified executives, technicians, scientists, professors of public Spanish universities
and internationally renowned artists, whose recruitment is in social, labour or cultural
economic interest.
In addition, in an effort to promote the participation and integration of immigrants in Spanish
society, proposing, informing and channelling actions towards these objectives, the Forum for
the Social Integration of Immigrants was constituted, which comes under the Ministry of
Work and Immigration, by means of the General Office for the Integration of Immigrants, this
being the body for consultation, information and advice with regards to the integration of
immigrants.
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Finally, in Spain there are various different national research/ information centres dedicated to
the topic of immigration, as well as associations and NGOs.
MIGRANTS’ HBSC STUDY IN SPAIN
Within the Health Behaviour in School Aged Children (HBSC) Study in Spain (supported by
an agreement signed between the Spanish Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs and the
University of Seville), at the request of the Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs, a report
titled "Adolescent development and the health of immigrants in Spain. Health Behaviour in
School Aged Children Study (HBSC-2006)" is being drafted.
This work identifies three different groups of school-aged children between 11 to 16 years of
age:
Spanish nationals, teenagers whose parents were born and reside in Spain. This group
is composed of 14,248 adolescents.
Second generation immigrants, with teenagers born and residing in Spain, but whose
parents were immigrants. With a total of 122 adolescents and because its sparse
population, this group will be not analyzed in this work.
First generation immigrants (adolescents and their parents were born outside Spain)
make up a group of 1,045 adolescents. This group differs from the other three groups
according to their country of origin: Latin America (698 adolescents), Arab-speaking
countries (96 adolescents) and Eastern Europe (120 teenagers).Table 1. Distribution
by sex, age and Family Affluence Scale (FAS) of the different groups appears
in the following table.
Sex Age FAS
Boy Girl 11-12 13-14 15-16 Low Medium
High
Native Spaniards 7030 7218 4648 4668 4932 1803 6517 5732
2nd generation
Immigrants 50 72 40 28 54 30 56 34
First generation
Immigrants 512 533 418 313 314 402 450 175
Latin America 342 356 298 192 208 290 290 108
Arab-speaking
country 45 51 35 36 25 33 43 18
Eastern Europe 61 59 38 38 44 43 66 10
This distribution only takes into consideration native Spanish adolescents and first generation
immigrants, as well as comparisons among them, taking into account their sex, age and FAS.
This report is structured into five chapters that describe and analyze the adolescent
development of immigrants in Spain. Chapters are:
Introduction. This chapter discusses the HBSC study in Spain and the distribution of
adolescent immigrants in the sample.
Life Styles. This comprehensive chapter discusses the lifestyles of immigrants and
native Spanish adolescents in relation to their food and diet, oral/dental hygiene,
physical and sedentary activity, substance use, sexual behaviour as well as accidents
and injuries.
Development contexts. Another major chapter discusses different variables of
different adolescents’ contexts: family (such as family structure, family
communication, parental supervision, family satisfaction), peer and free time
(including peer satisfaction, time to return home at night, peer abuse) and school
(satisfaction with school, academic achievement, psychosocial school environment
index).
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Health and psychological adjustment. This chapter discusses adolescents’ overall
health and psychological adjustment, including their perception of health, health
complaints, self-esteem and life satisfaction.
Conclusions. This chapter summarizes the main results of previous chapters.
As an example, the work currently being undertaken, presents the data found in relation to the
consumption of alcohol.
Figure 1. Percentage of native Spaniards and immigrant adolescents who currently
do not consume alcohol.
Figure 1 shows, according to the immigrant profile, that the percentage of no consumption is
higher in 2nd generation adolescent immigrants (67.5 %), while in other groups, the
percentage of no-consumption is very similar, 55.4% in native Spaniards and 54.9% in first
generation immigrants. When taking into consideration the adolescent’s country of origin,
adolescents from Arab-speaking countries are least apt to consume alcohol (88.5%).
However, adolescents from Latin America and Eastern Europe have no-consumption
percentages that are very similar and lower (51.9% and 50.8% respectively).
When discussing the consumption of alcohol with different groups, taking into account
gender, as indicated in Figure 2, in all groups, the no-consumption percentage is higher in
girls, although differences are very small (1 to 2 percent points). The same is true when
considering the place of origin, except in the Latin American group; in addition, in the
Eastern European group, the differences between boys and girls are higher, 10 percent points.
55.4%
67.5%
54.9%
51.9%
88.5%
50.8%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
NativeSpaniards
2ndgeneration
Firstgeneration
LatinAmerica
Arab
speakingcountry
EasternEurope
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Figure 2. Percentage of native Spaniards and immigrant adolescents who currently
do not consume alcohol, according to sex.
Figure 3 shows the differences of no-consumption between native Spaniards and migrants
according to age. When studying immigrant profile data according to the place of origin, the
percentage of no-consumption decreases with age. In other words, older adolescents consume
more alcohol.
Finally, the percentage of no-consumption among native Spanish adolescents is similar to
those from affluent (middle and high FAS) families (55.7% and 56.2% respectively) and is
lower in low FAS (50.8%). Among 2nd generation adolescent immigrants, the percentage of
no-consumption is higher in the average FAS families (72.2%), followed by low (65.5%) and
finally high (62.5%) FAS. Among 1st generation immigrants, the percentages of no-
consumption are very similar in low and average FAS (57.3 % and 55.9 % respectively) and
greater than in high FAS (45.9 %) families.
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Figure 3. Percentage of native Spaniards and immigrant adolescents who currently
do not consume alcohol, according to age.
Figure 4. Percentage of native Spaniards and immigrant adolescents who currently
do not consume alcohol, according to FAS.
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In reviewing adolescent immigrant data according to country of origin, the percentage of no-
consumption in the three groups is lower among those adolescents from high FAS families
and higher among adolescents from low FAS families (although in adolescents from Latin
America, the difference between the low and average FAS families is very small).
Below, are different tables indicating the frequencies of alcohol use.
Table 2. Frequencies of native Spaniards and immigrant adolescents who currently
do not consume alcohol.
FREQUENCY OF CURRENT CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC
BEVERAGES
EVERY
DAY
ALL THE
WEEKS
ALL THE
MONTHS RARELY NEVER
TOTAL
% % % % %
NATIVE
SPANIARDS 13816 1.1% 10.1% 10.0% 23.3% 55.4%
2ND GENERATION
IMMIGRANTS 117 .0% 6.0% 6.0% 20.5% 67.5%
ADOLESCENT’
PROFILE
1ST GENERATION
IMMIGRANTS 1011 .7% 6.9% 7.2% 30.3% 54.9%
LATIN AMERICA 676 .6% 6.2% 8.0% 33.3% 51.9%
ARAB-SPEAKING
COUNTRY 87 .0% 8.0% 1.1% 2.3% 88.5%
COUNTRY OF
ORIGIN
EASTERN EUROPE 120 1.7% 7.5% 7.5% 32.5% 50.8%
Table 3. Frequencies of native Spaniards and immigrant adolescents who currently
do not consume alcohol, according to sex.
FREQUENCY OF CURRENT CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC
BEVERAGES
EVERY
DAY
EVERY
WEEK
EVERY
MONTH RARELY NEVER
TOTAL
% % % % %
BOY 6819 1.7% 10.7% 9.7% 24.0% 53.9%
NATIVE
SPANIARDS GIRL 6997 .5% 9.6% 10.4% 22.7% 56.8%
BOY 49 .0% 10.2% 4.1% 20.4% 65.3%
2ND
GENERATION
IMMIGRANTS GIRL 68 .0% 2.9% 7.4% 20.6% 69.1%
BOY 491 1.0% 8.4% 6.9% 29.1% 54.6%
ADOLESCENT’
PROFILE
1ST
GENERATION
IMMIGRANTS GIRL 520 .4% 5.6% 7.5% 31.3% 55.2%
BOY 327 .9% 6.1% 7.0% 33.3% 52.6%
LATIN
AMERICA GIRL 349 .3% 6.3% 8.9% 33.2% 51.3%
BOY 41 .0% 9.8% .0% 2.4% 87.8%
ARAB-
SPEAKING
COUNTRY GIRL 46 .0% 6.5% 2.2% 2.2% 89.1%
BOY 61 3.3% 14.8% 9.8% 26.2% 45.9%
COUNTRY OF
ORIGIN
EASTERN
EUROPE GIRL 59 .0% .0% 5.1% 39.0% 55.9%
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Table 4. Frequencies of native Spaniards and immigrant adolescents who currently
do not consume alcohol, according to age.
FREQUENCY OF CURRENT CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC
BEVERAGES
EVERY
DAY
EVERY
WEEK
EVERY
MONTH RARELY NEVER
TOTAL
% % % % %
11 - 12 4562 .5% .2% .9% 10.5% 87.9%
13 - 14 4442 1.0% 5.0% 6.8% 29.0% 58.2%
NATIVE
SPANIARDS 15 - 16 4812 1.7% 24.3% 21.7% 30.3% 22.0%
11 - 12 40 .0% .0% 2.5% 10.0% 87.5%
13 - 14 24 .0% 4.2% 4.2% 16.7% 75.0%
2ND
GENERATION
IMMIGRANTS
15 - 16 53 .0% 11.3% 9.4% 30.2% 49.1%
11 - 12 407 .5% .2% 1.0% 18.4% 79.9%
13 - 14 297 1.0% 5.1% 8.8% 36.4% 48.8%
ADOLESCENT’
PROFILE
1ST
GENERATION
IMMIGRANTS
15 - 16 307 .7% 17.6% 14.0% 40.1% 27.7%
11 - 12 290 .7% .3% 1.0% 21.0% 76.9%
13 - 14 183 .5% 3.3% 8.7% 40.4% 47.0%
LATIN
AMERICA 15 - 16 203 .5% 17.2% 17.2% 44.3% 20.7%
11 - 12 33 .0% .0% .0% .0% 100.0%
13 - 14 31 .0% 9.7% 3.2% .0% 87.1%
ARAB-
SPEAKING
COUNTRY 15 - 16 23 .0% 17.4% .0% 8.7% 73.9%
11 - 12 38 .0% .0% 2.6% 18.4% 78.9%
13 - 14 38 2.6% 7.9% 10.5% 31.6% 47.4%
COUNTRY OF
ORIGIN
EASTERN
EUROPE 15 - 16 44 2.3% 13.6% 9.1% 45.5% 29.5%
Table 5. Frequencies of native Spaniards and immigrant adolescents who currently
do not consume alcohol, according to FAS.
FREQUENCY OF CURRENT CONSUMPTION OF
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
EVERY
DAY
EVERY
WEEK
EVERY
MONTH
RARELY NEVER
TOTAL
% % % % %
LOW 1757 1.3% 12.3% 10.4% 25.2% 50.8%
AVERAGE
6333 .9% 10.0% 10.0% 23.3% 55.7%
NATIVE
SPANIARDS HIGH 5545 1.1% 9.6% 10.1% 22.9% 56.2%
LOW 29 .0% 3.4% 6.9% 24.1% 65.5%
AVERAGE
54 .0% 3.7% 3.7% 20.4% 72.2%
2ND
GENERATION
IMMIGRANTS HIGH 32 .0% 12.5% 6.3% 18.8% 62.5%
LOW 389 1.0% 6.2% 4.6% 30.8% 57.3%
AVERAGE
435 .7% 6.0% 8.0% 29.4% 55.9%
ADOLESCENT’
PROFILE
1ST
GENERATION
IMMIGRANTS HIGH 170 .0% 10.0% 11.2% 32.9% 45.9%
LOW 280 .7% 5.7% 5.4% 34.3% 53.9%
AVERAGE
281 .7% 5.7% 8.9% 31.3% 53.4%
LATIN
AMERICA HIGH 106 .0% 7.5% 12.3% 36.8% 43.4%
LOW 31 .0% 6.5% .0% .0% 93.5%
AVERAGE
38 .0% 5.3% 2.6% 5.3% 86.8%
ARAB-
SPEAKING
COUNTRY HIGH 16 .0% 18.8% .0% .0% 81.3%
LOW 43 2.3% 9.3% 4.7% 25.6% 58.1%
AVERAGE
66 1.5% 6.1% 10.6% 33.3% 48.5%
COUNTRY OF
ORIGIN
EASTERN
EUROPE HIGH 10 .0% 10.0% .0% 60.0% 30.0%
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Conclusions
In response to the policy objectives in Spain to know and safeguard the health of adolescent
immigrants, this report carefully analyses the situation of the life styles and their relationship
with the health of this population. Likewise, it deepens into the development of these young
people within their developmental context: family, peer, and school life. This will allow us to
obtain the keys for intervention in adolescent immigrants. For example, according to the
variable analysed as a sample for this report—alcohol consumption—relevant information has
been obtained for use in intervention policies. These policies cover such aspects as the need to
prevent the consumption of alcohol, especially among adolescent immigrants from first
generation and from Latin America and Eastern Europe, or the influence their socio-economic
level has on the consumption of alcohol.
Therefore, the statistics from the HBSC study allow important information about the health of
immigrant adolescents to be collected, while at the same time researches the processes
involved in the development and maintenance of life styles that promote or jeopardise the
health of these young people. Moreover, it analyses this matter from the international
perspective and issues timely reports so that it can be analysed over time.
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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Emerging findings and conclusions
This section reviews findings from the situation analysis and from the different case studies,
aiming to achieve an overall understanding of immigrant children’s experiences.
All data reviewed suggest that there are few socio-demographic differences between child
immigrants and their native peers, however, across all countries and groups, foreign-
born/immigrant children are found to be over-represented in less affluent households and
under-represented in more affluent households, with immigrant children in Portugal being
particularly poor. This finding stands out as the strongest, most significant difference between
child immigrants and the general population and are similar to findings previously reported in
the US (The Urban Institute, 2006; Hernandez et al.2008) and in the Netherlands (Vollebergh
et al., 2005).
Overall, cross-national analysis suggests that the general health and life satisfaction of
foreign-born children is similar that of their native peers. However, the Irish case study
reveals that immigrant children from the UK are less likely to report excellent health and high
life satisfaction, and more likely to report frequent headaches compared to their native peers.
These findings were not evident among non-UK immigrants.
In Greece, foreign-born children are less likely than their native peers to report that they find
it easy to talk to their parents. This was not found in any of the other 11 countries. The Italian
case study adds that the protective effect that good relationships with parents have on children
lives is evident for both immigrants and native children.
Findings regarding peer relationships are more complicated with no clear cross-national
patterns. In some countries, foreign-born children are much more likely to find it easy to talk
to their best friends. In others, the opposite was found. However, the data fall short of
describing these friendships. Best friends could be made of other foreign-born children from
the same background, from a different origin, or natives. A couple of the case studies
addressed peer relationships by country of origin. In Ireland, immigrant children originating
from non-UK countries report weaker peer relations, but the opposite is reported by UK
immigrant children. Among children in Iceland, there is an increase in racism toward children
from Eastern Europe, but not towards children from other origins.
Integration in school could serve as an indicator for integration in society, hence it is broadly
studied in relation to migrant status. The cross-national analysis did not reveal a clear pattern
across countries and across variables. In some countries, foreign-born children were more
likely to perceive their school performance as above average, in some they are less likely to
perceive themselves as above the average, and other countries foreign-born children are
similar to their native peers. In two countries, foreign-born children were more likely to report
that they liked school, but in all other countries, such differences were not evident. The lack
of one, clear pattern coincide with the literature that points to different findings in different
countries and between immigrants from different countries of origin (Levels, Dronkers and
Kraaykamp, 2008; Liebkind et al., 2004; Cardak and McDonald, 2004; Harris et al., 2008;
Westin, 2003).
In four of the countries, foreign-born children were less likely to agree that other students
accept them as they are, but this was not evident in the other eight countries. In Iceland
findings suggest that school related problems are associated with the level of fluency in
language rather then solely with an immigrant status. Children leaving in houses where a
foreign language is spoken are two-to-three times more likely to report disliking school and
less likely to report that other students are kind to them. In Ireland, however, language itself
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
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could not serve as an explanation for such difference: in Ireland UK immigrants (who are
fluent in English) are less likely to report positive school perceptions and both UK and non-
UK immigrant are less likely to report that other students accept them, compared to their
native peers.
Bullying victimization is more prevalent among foreign-born children in Ireland, Scotland
and Spain, and bullying perpetration more prevalent among foreign-born children in Italy and
Spain and less prevalent among foreign-born children in Greece. Involvement in physical
fighting is more prevalent among foreign-born children in Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and
Sweden. In Iceland, adolescents in homes where other languages (not Icelandic) are spoken
are 3.1 times more likely to have been bullied.
Involvement in risk behaviours also varies by type of behaviour and by country. Foreign-born
children in Greece are more likely to report history of drunkenness; in Wales and Denmark
fewer foreign-born children reported to have been drunk; and fewer foreign-born children in
Spain reported weekly smoking. More in-depth information is provided in the national case
studies. In Iceland, results show that adolescents in homes where a language other than
Icelandic is spoken are 3.1 times as likely to smoke daily, 1.4 times as likely to have been
drunk and 2.3 times as likely to have had sexual intercourse. Additionally, second generation
children from African, Asian, Central- or South-American origin are 1.7-2.0 times as likely to
smoke, drink or have early sexual intercourse. In Ireland, UK immigrant boys are more likely
to be involved in risk behaviours, but this is not evident among non-UK immigrant children.
In Portugal, immigrant children are much more likely to report involvement in all risk
behaviours.
Challenges identified
The compilation of evidence from the situational analysis and the national case studies
suggest that immigration is a very complex phenomena that differs between and within the
countries. There is no one clear pattern that allows concluding that immigrant children are
faring better or worse. The culture of the country of origin, the culture in the country of
residence, the policies that exist in a country in relation to migration and the level of inclusion
in society all interplay to create this mixed picture, making it impossible to conclude with
recommending a one-size-fits-all approach. The challenges that are therefore identified are
many.
Although the data presented is fairly rich, it is not rich or deep enough to establish the needs
of different migrant groups in different countries. More targeted data collection is, therefore,
required.
One aspect of migrant life that seems substantial for immigrant children’s lives is social
inclusion. Children that are excluded seem to fare worse. Social inclusion does not necessary
mean that children need to shed their old sense of identity; diversity should be accepted and
respected.
One of the only findings that seems to cut across countries and groups is the lower level of
family affluence among immigrant families. Whereas in many cases this is only to be
expected, it still puts these children under additional stress. This issue needs to be better
studied and addressed.
The evidence presented calls for a global community intervention within the adolescent's
contexts (family, school, community), in order to promote health knowledge and personal and
social skills that lead to healthy choices and lifestyles and to better social inclusion. The
importance of fluency in the language spoken in the country is also highlighted and needs to
be supported. In addition to promoting individual skills, there is a need to promote tolerance
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
50
towards diversities in societies and to create mechanisms that allow for better integration of
immigrant children in society.
Implications research, policy and practice
Despite the limitations of the above analysis, it provides insights into issues that could have
implications for research, policy and practice. Four examples of these are briefly highlighted
below, and reflect a social determinants of health approach to immigrant child well-being.
Noting that immigrant children are found to be over-represented in less affluent
households, it is important that (a) migration policy provide migrant families with
equitable access to social protection services, and (b) social protection policy foster
equitable access to public services and opportunities. Of relevance here are the
recommendations of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health regarding
policies for social protection across the life course (WHO, 2008):
o Governments, where necessary with help from donors and civil society
organizations, and where appropriate in collaboration with employers, build
universal social protection systems and increase their generosity towards a
level that is sufficient for healthy living.
o Governments, where necessary with help from donors and civil society
organizations, and where appropriate in collaboration with employers, use
targeting only as back up for those who slip through the net of universal
systems.
A positive family environment can be a protective factor for the health of all children,
immigrant and native-born. There is evidence that programmes that foster effective
parenting skills— including Early Child Development programmes that feature,
among other services, parenting and caregiver support—can help to maximize
children’s development capacity (Irwin L, Siddiqi A, Hertzman C, 2007). Such
programmes can be particularly important for children from socioeconomically
disadvantaged households, which are disproportionately represented in migrant
populations, and are a tool in breaking the inter-generational transmission of poverty
and social exclusion.
Effective health information systems are central in enabling health systems to fulfil
their goals of health, financial protection and responsiveness (WHO Regional Office
for Europe, 2008a). The analyses in this paper highlight the need for these systems to
monitor and measure the health of national populations, including migrant and ethnic
minority populations, with data disaggregated according to the major social
determinants in each context (such as age, gender, ethnicity, education, employment
and socioeconomic status). This permits health inequities to be detected and the
impact of policies and practices monitored (WHO, 2009a).
Given the complexities of the migration phenomena — for instance, with differing
socioeconomic conditions in countries of origin and different levels of integration in
countries in destination — international comparison of data on migrant health is
challenging and can lead to disparate results. While it is important nevertheless to
continue these efforts at international level, it is first and foremost essential to scale
up investment in information systems at national and sub-national level that look at
health inequities, including by migrant status. Such data can be taken into
consideration in the design of policies and programmes, in the health sector and
beyond, with particular usefulness for primary health care level in areas serving
migrant communities and other populations that may face higher levels of social
exclusion.
Assisting Migrants and Communities (AMAC) Project DRAFT Background Paper
51
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