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Mapuche represents the largest indigenous group in Chile amounting to nearly 10% of the total population. In a longitudinal cohort of 12,398 children, we analyzed the role of ethnicity in physical and psychosocial development of Mapuche and nonindigenous Chilean toddlers (age 2.5 years), taking into account sociodemographic and caregiver characteristics. As indicated by our univariate analysis, the Mapuche developmental niche was characterized by lower income, lower maternal education, poorer quality of the home environment, longer breastfeeding, and higher parental stress. Physical development showed higher body mass index. Mapuche children showed less externalizing problems. We then analyzed the incremental contribution of ethnicity in a series of hierarchical regressions with the second wave of developmental measurements (age 4.5 years) as outcome variables, showing a significant but modest incremental contribution of ethnicity to the prediction of children's development between 2.5 and 4.5 years of age. Controlling for environmental variables, Mapuche showed less externalizing and internalizing, behavior problems. Socioeconomic status, quality of the home environment, and parenting stress were stronger predictors of socioemotional development than ethnicity per se.
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Physical and psychosocial development of Mapuche and
nonindigenous Chilean toddlers: A modest role of ethnicity
MARCELO A. NAVARRETE,
a
JAIME R. SILVA,
b,c
MARINUS H. VAN IJZENDOORN,
d,e
AND
RODRIGO A. CA
´RCAMO
a
aUniversity of Magallanes, Chile; bUniversidad del Desarrollo, Chile; cClı
´nica Alemana de Santiago, Chile; dCapital Normal
University, Beijing, China; and eErasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Abstract
Mapuche represents the largest indigenous group in Chile amounting to nearly 10% of the total population. In a longitudinal cohort of 12,398 children,we
analyzed the role of ethnicity in physical and psychosocial development of Mapuche and nonindigenous Chilean toddlers (age 2.5 years), taking into account
sociodemographic and caregivercharacteristics. As indicated by our univariate analysis, the Mapuche developmental niche was characterized by lower income,
lower maternal education, poorer quality of the home environment, longer breastfeeding, and higher parental stress. Physical development showed higher body
mass index. Mapuche children showed less externalizing problems. We then analyzed the incremental contribution of ethnicity in a series of hierarchical
regressions with the second wave of developmental measurements (age 4.5 years) as outcome variables, showing a significant but modest incremental
contribution of ethnicity to the prediction of children’s development between 2.5 and 4.5 years of age. Controlling for environmental variables, Mapuche
showed less externalizing and internalizing, behavior problems. Socioeconomic status, quality of the home environment, and parenting stress were stronger
predictors of socioemotional development than ethnicity per se.
The need for integration of cultural context in the understand-
ing of child development has gained increased attention over
the last decades (Causadias, 2013; Garcı
´a Coll, Akerman, &
Cicchetti, 2000). Therefore, the study of the interplay of cul-
ture, psychology, and biology in less explored populations
and cultural contexts remains highly needed to compensate
for the traditionally heavy emphasis on WEIRD (Western,
educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic) contexts in de-
velopmental psychology and psychopathology (Henrich,
Heine, & Norenzayan, 2010). Contextual factors, such as cul-
tural background and family socioeconomic status, have been
identified as important predictors of child development out-
comes (Bornstein, 1995; Grantham-McGregor et al., 2007).
It has been proposed that different (sub)cultures can act as
organizing agents in child development. They may influence
the developmental trajectories through both proximal and dis-
tal processes and gradually become embodied in the child’s
biological makeup and repertoire of behaviors. One approach
to describe this process suggests to consider parents from spe-
cific cultures or ethnic groups as potentially creating a spe-
cific “developmental niche” with specific physical and social
settings of daily life, specific customs of childcare, and a spe-
cific caretaker psychology (Harkness & Super, 1994). This
approach is valuable, although (sub)cultures are never mono-
lithic and children actively mold the cultural affordances into
different individual trajectories. Unfortunately, the intricate
interplay between culture and child development (Bradley
& Corwyn, 2005; Causadias, 2013) has been infrequently
studied in Latin America.
Chile is a South American country with a mixed ethnic
population. Nearly 11.7% of the population identify them-
selves as belonging to an indigenous group according to the
CASEN survey of the Social Observatory of the Ministry of
Social Development (CASEN, 2015). By far, Mapuche re-
presents the largest indigenous group in Chile (80%),
amounting to 9.4% of the total population (CASEN, 2015).
Despite being the largest indigenous group, the Mapuche
population still forms an ethnic minority in a nonindigenous
society. The Mapuche population lives primarily in the Ara-
ucanı
´a region, where it represents 32% of the inhabitants
(CASEN, 2015). This region shows the lowest gross domestic
product per capita in Chile (11,542 USD per capita), reaching
less than half of the national mean gross domestic product per
capita (24,270 USD per capita, Central Bank of Chile).
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Rodrigo A. Ca
´rcamo.
Department of Psychology, University of Magallanes. Av. Bulnes 01855,
Punta Arenas, P.O. Box 113-D, Chile; E-mail: rodrigo.carcamo@umag.cl.
We would like to thank the research team of the Encuesta Longitudinal de la
Primera Infancia [Longitudinal Survey of Early Childhood]. Support was
provided by the Fund for Innovation and Competitiveness (FIC) of the Chi-
lean Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism, through the Millen-
nium Scientific Initiative Grant IS130005 and the National Fund for Scienti-
fic and Technological Development (FONDECYT) Grant 1171836 (to J.S.)
and Grant 11140663 (to R.C.). Support from the Netherlands Organization
for Scientific Research (NWO-Spinoza Prize; to M.H.v.IJ.) is gratefully ac-
knowledged.
Development and Psychopathology 30 (2018), 1959–1976
#Cambridge University Press 2018
doi:10.1017/S0954579418001281
1959
Little is known about the way present-day Mapuche cana-
lize child development. There is, however, evidence support-
ing that the particular characteristics of this ethnic group may
provide a distinctive developmental niche. The Mapuche
have traditionally resisted the dominant culture (Dunbar,
Saiz, Stela, & Saez, 2000) and only in recent years have
they become somewhat more integrated (Alarco
´n & Nahuel-
cheo, 2008). The Mapuche originally practiced polygamy
and lived in a patrilocal extended family. Traditionally, older
children were raised by all members of the patrilineal group,
with an authority role for the paternal grandfather. Children
were highly valued, and the number of children per woman
was high. Up to 4 years of age, children were in the constant
company of their mother, positioned on a cradle-board or
“kulpu
¨lwe,” and could observe all her activities in the tradi-
tional hut or “ruka” (Caniguan, 2012). During childhood,
they gradually begin to participate in gender-segregated
work activities (e.g., taking care of the cattle and cleaning
the ruka). The Mapuche worldview and significant legends
were transmitted within the family through storytelling in
Mapudungun, the Mapuche language. Regarding healthcare,
the Mapuche consult a Machi (traditional healer and religious
leader in the Mapuche culture), and mothers explain their
children’s diseases articulating religious, magic, and natural
(hot, cold, and humidity) causes (Alarco
´n-Mun
˜oz & Vidal-
Herrera, 2005). The latter imposes an important communica-
tional barrier during the primary healthcare delivery process
(Molineaux, 2017).
Across the years, the Mapuche underwent a process of
suppression and marginalization, and their traditional social
structure has changed in various ways (Caniguan, 2012).
Some of these changes were the unfortunate result of eco-
nomical suppression: the underpaid labor of Mapuche men
outside their native villages, a form of labor migration, has re-
sulted in an increasing number of single mothers, and both
working and nonworking single mothers mostly live with
their parents. As a result, the grandmother has become an
important socializing agent, and the Mapuche culture is
partly moving to a matrilocal and matrilinear system (Cani-
guan, 2012). Other social changes formed an active adapta-
tion to the majority culture: Mapuche in rural areas no longer
live in rukas, no longer strive for large families, have accepted
school as a socializing agent, and many have adopted the Ro-
man Catholic or, more recently, the protestant Evangelical re-
ligion. Nevertheless, the Mapuche have developed resilience
strategies rooted in many traditional and ancestral practice
(Causadias, 2013). They hold on to certain cultural beliefs
and practices that give meaning to their daily life and promote
well-being. For instance, they celebrate traditional festivities
and may still consult a Machi, the traditional healer. It can be
argued that the Mapuche have gradually become a multicul-
tural or mixed-cultural ethnic group that in some respects has
become indistinguishable from the nonindigenous of the
same social class (Caniguan, 2012; Sadler & Obach, 2006),
but this assimilation process is still rather recent. In Chile
the identification as belonging to the Mapuche ethnic group
still remains a very strong group affiliation, with particular
cultural dynamics that account for intrinsic transmitted
norms, values, beliefs, behavior, and worldview.
Recently it has been described how Mapuche women re-
create cultural practices despite migration to urban areas,
bringing meanings, customs, and practices encouraging
younger generations to value and strengthen their cultural
identity (Becerra, Merino, Webb, & Larran
˜aga, 2017). These
elements are especially noticeable within the current political
turmoil (e.g., current discussions about territorial secession
and a separate constitution; Carruthers & Rodriguez, 2009);
therefore, the self-identification to the Mapuche ethnic group
can be interpreted in many aspects as a culture-defining char-
acteristic in the current Chilean context.
Ethnicity and Physical Development
Ethnic differences in anthropometric data have been observed
for years both at the country level and between different eth-
nic groups within a country (Ball et al., 2010; Widyanti, Sus-
anti, Sutalaksana, & Muslim, 2015; Yap, Chan, Chan, &
Wang, 2001). These differences could be restricted to the
level of proportions within different body segments or extend
to overall body dimensions (Widyanti et al., 2015). Several
efforts are being made to establish anthropometric databases
for different population and ethnic groups (de Onis et al.,
2004,2012; Fredriks et al., 2005; Ramirez-Velez et al.,
2016; Zong & Li, 2013); however, complete and comprehen-
sive information for many regions and ethnic groups is miss-
ing and insight into social and ethnic determinants of early
physical development is still absent.
A recent study by Jones (2018), showed that mothers’
work condition is associated with obesity risk in their chil-
dren. However, this association highly depends on ethnicity
and socioeconomic status affecting both mothers’ work and
children’s physical parameters. For instance, mothers’ work
outside home was detrimental to child weight for White chil-
dren, whereas for Black children it decreased child obesity
risk (Jones, 2018). In addition, body mass index trajectories
at early years are also reported to be associated with ethnic
background (Guerrero et al., 2016).
In Chile, being Mapuche has clear connotations. Typi-
cally, they have a specific set of values and traditions, they
have their own language, and they have been isolated from
non-Mapuche Chileans. In general, a Mapuche Chilean has
lower income in comparison to a non-Mapuche Chilean
and a higher rate of indigence (Agostini, Brown, & Roma
´n,
2010). Following Cohen’s formulations (2009) about the im-
portance of socioeconomic status, region, and religion to ac-
count for the cultural variations of transmission of norms, be-
liefs, values, and behaviors, being characterized as a
Mapuche is substantially different from being a non-Ma-
puche Chilean.
From a morphological perspective, there have been studies
that found differences in the body mass index and somato-
types of Mapuche and non-Mapuche children (Bruneau-Cha
´-
M. A. Navarrete et al.1960
vez, Espan
˜a-Romero, Lang-Tapia, & Chillo
´n, 2015). The de-
velopment of body mass index has been related to socioeco-
nomic status and ethnicity as independent factors (Sundquist
& Johansson, 1998). Regarding ethnicity, there have been
studies that shown different proportions of body mass index
in the population depending if they have been immigrants
or American-born immigrants and depending on the number
of years living in America (e.g., Lauderdale & Rathouz,
2000).
One study has analyzed the influence of Mapuche origin
and socioeconomic conditions on the height of 1,293 adults
living in the Araucanı
´a region (Erazo, Amigo, & Bustos,
2005). This study showed a lower height in Mapuche sub-
jects. The differences decreased among subjects living in
counties of more resources and less family poverty. Bustos,
Mun
˜oz, Vargas, and Amigo (2009) analyzed the develop-
ment of the nutritional situation of indigenous and nonindi-
genous Chilean schoolchildren, reporting that the stunted
growth and lower weight of Mapuche children were not so
much the result of hereditary differences but of the conditions
of poverty under which they grow up. In addition, Amigo,
Bustos, and Kaufman (2010) have shown the absence of large
disparities in anthropometric measures among Chilean indi-
genous and nonindigenous newborns, with a birthweight
that remained stable over the 5 years of observation. All to-
gether this evidence suggest that differences in anthropomet-
ric measures between Mapuche and the nonindigenous pop-
ulation are associated with the socioeconomic status rather
than with intrinsic ethnic differences.
Besides socioeconomic status, physical growth could also
be associated with access to healthcare services. In Chile, var-
ious (sub)cultures developed different strategies for health-
care access. Ancestral medicinal practices are often recog-
nized as a part of the primary healthcare system, and that is
particularly true for the Mapuche medical care (Torri & La-
plante, 2013). Whether the differences in primary medical
care received by Mapuche and nonindigenous individuals in-
fluenced the clinical outcome and growth remains unex-
plored.
The Development of Behavior Problems Among
Mapuche and Non-Mapuche
The development of socioemotional competence during early
childhood is an important foundation for children’s later so-
cial adaptation and success (Raver, 2002). The emerging abil-
ity of young children to form close and secure adult and peer
relationships in socially and culturally appropriate ways is
strongly associated with the rearing environment. Several
variables including, socioeconomic status, child care quality,
ethnic background, and gender can influence the develop-
ment of problematic socioemotional behavior (Miner &
Clarke-Stewart, 2008). Children from more vulnerable socio-
economic environments consistently show more problem be-
haviors, compared to their wealthier peers (Berger, Paxson, &
Waldfogel, 2009).
Behavior problems are a wide set of conducts related to
two broad-band dimensions of psychopathology in children:
internalized and externalized problems (Achenbach, 1966).
Internalizing problems are related to inhibited overcontrolling
problems that are inner directed (e.g., depression, anxiety,
somatization, etc.), and externalizing problems are related
to aggressive, antisocial undercontrolling behaviors that are
manifested externally (e.g., aggression, defiance, or hyperac-
tivity) and are outer directed (Holland, Malmberg, & Peacock
2017).
Given the rapid changes in different domains (cognitive,
linguistic, emotional, etc.) in toddlerhood and the preschool
years, these behaviors have potential to become an indicator
of long-term difficulties (Briggs-Gowan & Carter, 2008),
and have been related to a series of antecedents such as pov-
erty (Costello, Compton, Keeler, & Angold, 2003), psycho-
logical and behavioral parental control (Barber, Olsen, &
Shagle, 1994), parental stress (Neece, Green, & Baker,
2012), harsh discipline (McKee et al., 2007), and maternal
mental health (Shaw, Connell, Dishion, Wilson, & Gardner,
2009).
At this moment, very few studies on this topic have been
conducted in Latin America. One study in Brazil found that
behavioral and emotional problems in the preschool years
persisted over preadolescence, especially for externalizing
problems (Anselmi et al., 2008), showing evidence of conti-
nuity, stability, and predictability of behavioral problems in a
developing country. In a large study conducted in 23 soci-
eties, Rescorla et al. (2011) found that in comparison with
the omnicultural mean, Chile had the highest score of total be-
havior problems in children from 1.5 to 5 years reported by
their parents.
Empirical evidence demonstrating differences in socioe-
motional problems between Mapuche and nonindigenous
children is missing. There is one study conducted by Vicente,
Rioseco, Saldivia, Kohn, and Torres (2005), on prevalence of
psychiatric disorders in Chilean adults older than 15 years of
age, showing less prevalence among the Mapuche in affective
disorders and other disorders. In another study of Chilean in-
digenous minority groups, Caqueo-Urı
´ar et al. (2014) also
found that among the minority group, children showed lower
scores in behavioral problems when compared to nonindigen-
ous children according to their teachers. This result is also
consistent with what Rothhammer et al. (2005) found in sim-
ilar populations on attention-deficit and hyperactivity disor-
der.
There is, however, data from other ethnic groups, in the
United States, to suggest that African American males are
considerably more likely to show behavioral problems
due to their perceived inability to regulate their emotions
and behavior (Gilliam & Shahar, 2006). However, one
study, addressing ethnic differences in socioemotional devel-
opment in preschool, showed that behavioral problems
associated with ethnicity disappear when the teacher–child
ethnicity match was taken into consideration (Scott & Howex,
2011).
Child development and ethnicity in Chile 1961
The Role of Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status on
Child Development
The differences in child rearing environments between differ-
ent ethnic groups have been studied in the United States
among others by Bradley, Corwyn, McAdoo, and Coll
(2001). They have shown that effects of poverty on the
home environment are more pronounced than are the effects
of a particular ethnicity. Other studies reported that ethnic
minority parents show less sensitive behavior than majority
parents (Spiker, Ferguson, & Brooks-Gunn, 1993; van IJzen-
doorn, 1990; Yaman, Mesman, van IJzendoorn, Bakermans-
Kranenburg, & Linting, 2010). However, a review suggested
that these differences are most probably caused by socioeco-
nomic differences (Mesman, van IJzendoorn, & Bakermans-
Kranenburg, 2012). Children from low-income families seem
vulnerable to the accumulation of several risk conditions,
which become an impediment for reaching their potential
across different developmental domains (Grantham-McGre-
gor et al., 2007). Nevertheless, it is still possible that the inter-
pretation of children’s signals is subject to cultural beliefs and
customs (Bornstein et al., 1992; Keller & Otto, 2009). De-
spite current progress, it is still difficult to attribute final caus-
ality to the complex construct of socioeconomic status. How
socioeconomic status operates through multiple mechanisms
to affect developmental trajectories varying across ethnic
groups remains unclear and deserves further investigation
(Bradley & Corwyn, 2005).
Sroufe (1997) proposed that maladaptation is the result of
a series of interactions between risk and protective factors that
could arise from the environment and/or endogenous charac-
teristics. From this perspective, behavioral problems are not a
static psychopathological condition, but a maladaptation that
leads to a probabilistic pathway to a future disorder.
Research in the developmental trajectories from the early
onset of externalizing problems has shown that the mecha-
nism from which they could lead to a disorder is through de-
velopmental cascades (Masten & Cicchetti, 2010). One ex-
ample in the literature shows that behavior problems are a
strong predictor of substance abuse in adolescence (Dodge
et al., 2009), and recent evidence considers the interaction be-
tween externalizing and internalizing problems to understand
probability and amount of substance use (Colder et al., 2018).
The Encuesta Longitudinal de la Primera Infancia
[Longitudinal Survey of Early Childhood]
The Chilean Encuesta Longitudinal de la Primera Infancia
[Longitudinal Survey of Early Childhood] is a joint effort
by the Chilean Ministry of Education and the University of
Chile to collect data about early childhood that allows us to
evaluate the effect of government child-related policies. A re-
presentative sample of more than 15,000 children from 6
months up to 5 years old and their family from all over the
country are being followed in a longitudinal study. Caregivers
and relatives are interviewed, and children and caregivers are
subjected to a battery of anthropometric measurements and
psychological tests. In addition, demographic data is regis-
tered. The instruments used and the data collected at the first
two measurement rounds, in 2010 and 2012, respectively,
were available to our research team.
Currently, only very few articles have been published
using data available from the Encuesta Longitudinal de la Pri-
mera Infancia [Longitudinal Survey of Early Childhood]
study. They mainly have focused on the socioeconomic im-
pact on the development of early childhood. For instance,
Behrman, Palma, and Puentes (2017) analyzed data of chil-
dren
´s differences on anthropometrics measures, and they
showed that there were no significant differences between
low- and high-income families. At birth, there is a slight dif-
ference favoring the poorest in height, but it disappears over
time. The authors indicate that the major prevalence of Cesar-
ean and shorter gestation in the richest families (three times
higher than the poorest) could explain this difference. They
also concluded that wealth disparities are more noticeable
after the second year of life, especially in cognitive skills
more than in anthropometrics, but education and cognitive
ability of the mother are also an important factor.
Furthermore, Kagawa, Fernald, and Behrman (2016)ex-
plored the association between weight and behavioral prob-
lems in children. Using the Encuesta Longitudinal de la Pri-
mera Infancia [Longitudinal Survey of Early Childhood] data
set, they found that this association exists but only at the age
to start elementary school. Children younger than 6 years old
do not show this association. This finding was driven by girls
and not significant for boys. Reynolds, Fernald, and Behrman
(2017) also studied a sample from the Encuesta Longitudinal
de la Primera Infancia [Longitudinal Survey of Early Child-
hood] data set examining the relation between mother’s labor
market participation and child development outcomes. Tak-
ing into account language, cognitive, and socioemotional de-
velopment, they concluded that in the Chilean population,
contrary to several previous results in other samples, children
performed better on all these outcomes when mothers partici-
pates full-time in the labor market during the first 2 years of
life than in cases where mothers worked less. Authors indi-
cated that these results may be associated to more access to
toys and other resources, and reduced maternal stress (Rey-
nolds et al., 2017).
Only one study using the Encuesta Longitudinal de la Pri-
mera Infancia [Longitudinal Survey of Early Childhood] data
has focused on ethnic differences (Ca
´rcamo, Vermeer, van
der Veer, & van IJzendoorn, 2015). This study provided em-
pirical data describing the childcare environment of children
raised in the Mapuche and nonindigenous Chilean popula-
tion. This work reported very small differences in the quality
of the childcare environment, and several disadvantageous
conditions for Mapuche children. This comparison revealed
that socioeconomic status plays a major role to explain the de-
velopmental differences.
In summary, very little is known about early childhood de-
velopment in the Mapuche ethnic group, and empirical infor-
M. A. Navarrete et al.1962
mation on change in physical and socioemotional parameters
is scarce. Therefore, we first performed a comprehensive
analysis of anthropometric and behavioral outcomes in Chi-
lean toddlers from different ethnic groups based on a longitu-
dinal, multidimensional, contextualizing, and representative
data set. We then analyzed which individual, contextual, or
environmental factors are associated with putative differences
in toddlers’ development across 2 years.
Our first research question was whether there are differ-
ences in development of children growing up within the Ma-
puche culture as compared with nonindigenous children in
Chile. Based on the available literature we propose two hy-
potheses:
Hypothesis 1: Mapuche Chilean children will have similar
physical growth outcomes across time points, but more be-
havioral problems than nonindigenous children.
Our second research question was whether child develop-
ment may also, or even more strongly, be related to socioeco-
nomic status of the family compared to ethnicity.
Hypothesis 2: Socioeconomic status will be more strongly as-
sociated with developmental outcomes in Chilean children in
various domains of growth and development than ethnicity.
Method
Participants
The Encuesta Longitudinal de la Primera Infancia [Longitu-
dinal Survey of Early Childhood] data were available for
two time points, in 2010 and 2012, respectively. The initial
sample at the first time point included 15,175 children. To se-
lect the sample, we first decided to involve in our analysis
families where the target child is raised by the mother mainly.
This criterion emerged from the fact that 98.8% (N¼14,996)
of the families reported that the mother is the main caregiver.
We then selected those cases that were interviewed at both
time points for analysis (n¼12,607). Finally, we selected
from those, families where the mother reported to be part of
the Mapuche indigenous group and those who did not belong
to any indigenous group. Thus, 12,398 children and their
mothers were included in our analysis: 876 (7%) families be-
longed to the Mapuche ethnic minority group and 11,522
(93%) families belonged to the majority group in Chile.
The percentage of missing data for background variables
ranged between 0.1% for breastfeeding and 27.9%. for the pa-
rental stress index variable. Table 1 reports the sample sizes
for all the background variables. For outcome variables, sam-
ple sizes are displayed in Table 2.
To have a complete data set for regression analysis, we im-
puted data for variables with missing data. The selected impu-
tation model was the E-M algorithm (Hedderley & Wakeling,
1995). For results on hierarchical and stepwise regressions
without imputation, see Appendix A Tables A.1 to A.4.Re-
gressions in the imputed and original data set converged to
the same conclusions.
Mean age of all mothers was 29.33 years (SD ¼7.12) at
Time 1. Mean age of the children was 30.43 months (SD ¼
12.81; range from 7 to 58 months) at Time 1, and 56.48
months (SD ¼12.78; range from 33 to 83 months) at Time
2. Fifty percent of the sample consisted of boys, and 29%
were raised by single mothers. Table 1 shows the background
variables and family characteristics, comparing Mapuche and
nonindigenous families.
Procedure
The first time point for assessment was in 2010. During a first
visit, the interviewers (n¼467; 78% female) introduced the
Encuesta Longitudinal de la Primera Infancia [Longitudinal
Survey of Early Childhood] through a letter that explained
the study, highlighting its importance for the development
of new public policies and clarifying the anonymity and vol-
untary participation. Interviewers tried to engage the partici-
pants, collected demographic data, and arranged the second
visit. The second visit was conducted by 326 observers
(85% female), and all of them had a higher education in the
social sciences, mostly psychology. The goal of the second
visit was to measure the child’s physical and socioemotional
development and the quality of the home environment. Ob-
servations during the second visit were completed for
91.6% of the families interviewed during the first visit. Inter-
viewers received an extensive training explaining the goal of
the study, details of the survey, and the standardization of the
procedures. The data collection took place in 2010 in a time
range of 6 months; all the surveys were double-checked by
supervisors, and 10% of the interviews were also supervised
during data collection to ensure the high quality of the process
and the data.
The second time point for assessments was in 2012,
and the same procedure was followed. The first visit was in-
tended to reengage the family into the study and to make
an appointment for the second visit by a professional psychol-
ogist. All the instruments were applied in one session, and
no order of them are reported or available for our research
team.
Instruments
Anthropometric variables: Body mass index. Weight and
height at birth was reported by the parents during the first in-
terview. Head circumference at birth was not asked of the
caregivers; therefore, this data was not available for analysis.
Measurements were performed at two different time points as
previously reported (Kagawa et al., 2016): after receiving
formal training on proper measurement of anthropometrics,
interviewers weighed and measured the children during visits
to the homes. Children under 2 years of age were weighed in
the arms of their caretaker and the caretaker’s weight was sub-
sequently subtracted. Children over 2 years old were weighed
Child development and ethnicity in Chile 1963
individually. A SECA brand digital scale was used for all
weight measurements. To measure length, children under 2
years old were measured lying down. A parent assisted the re-
searcher in keeping the child still and straight, and the inter-
viewer used a ruler or a book and masking tape to mark the
child’s length against a measuring tape attached to a flat sur-
face. To measure height in children over the age of 2, children
were assessed standing with their heels, buttocks, shoulders,
and head making contact with a wall. The interviewer marked
their height against the wall using a book or ruler and masking
tape. All were measured barefoot and without hair adorn-
ments.
Age- and sex-standardized weight, height, and Body Mass
Index across time points (birth, and first and second wave),
and its related z-scores were calculated with a custom imple-
mentation of the “igrowup.standard” function in R V3.4.4,
following World Health Organization recommendations (de
Onis et al., 2004; WHO, 2011).
Head circumference was measured with a plastic wrap
placed over the child’s ears and turning around the head.
The obtained measure was then recorded in centimeters.
The data was normalized for age and sex with the sdschild
R package using the WHO and European (United Kingdom)
reference tables.
Behavioral problems. The behavioral problems were mea-
sured using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achen-
bach & Rescorla, 2000). This instrument is widely used to
measure three general scales: internalizing, externalizing,
and total problems. The complete test is composed of 90
items with concrete behavior descriptions. The answer op-
tions are untrue,sometimes true, and always true. In the En-
cuesta Longitudinal de la Primera Infancia [Longitudinal Sur-
vey of Early Childhood], in addition to the version for
children between 18 months and 72 months old, a CBCL ver-
sion for older children was used with a limited number of chil-
dren (n¼1,769) and no children were measured with this ver-
sion at the first wave, which is why we only considered for
analysis CBCL scores for young children at both time points.
Background variables.
Ethnicity. The ethnicity of the family was defined by self-
report. Families were considered as belonging to Mapuche
when the mother stated in the interview that they belonged
to this minority ethnic group.
Income. Mothers or main caregivers were asked for the
monthly family per capita income in Chilean Pesos (CLP).
Table 1. Descriptive statistics of demographic and family characteristics
Mapuche Nonindigenous Total
Family characteristics N M (SD) N M (SD) M (SD) t (df) d (95% CI)
Income 764 3.88 (1.63) 10,012 4.58 (2.17) 4.53 (2.16) 10.04 (10,774)* 0.32 [0.25, 0.40]
Maternal education 866 3.06 (0.90) 11,382 3.37 (0.89) 3.35 (0.89) 9.805 (12,246)* 0.34 [0.27, 0.41]
Maternal age (years) 876 29.51 (7.36) 11,522 29.31 (7.10) 29.33 (7.12) 0.773 (12,396) 0.02 [–0.04, 0.09]
Breastfeeding (time) 844 14.18 (9.62) 10,945 12.61 (9.06) 12.73 (9.11) 4.566 (11,787)* 0.17 [0.09, 0.23]
Parent Stress Index 651 76.87 (24.15) 8,291 71.92 (22.23) 73.20 (22.40) 4.042 (8,940)* 0.22 [0.14, 0.30]
IT - HOME Time 1 763 0.70 (0.14) 9,819 0.76 (0.13) 0.75 (0.13) 10.32 (10,580)* 0.39 [0.31, 0.46]
EC - HOME Time 2 778 0.59 (0.20) 10,103 0.66 (0.21) 0.66 (0.21) 8.887 (10,879)* 0.33 [0.25, 0.40]
Children variables
Z-Height at birth (cm) 787 0.18 (1.09) 10,540 0.13 (1.06) 0.14 (1.06) 1.041 (11,325) 0.04 [0.02, 0.12]
Z-Weight at birth (kg) 786 0.22 (1.04) 10,611 0.15 (1.03) 0.16 (1.03) 1.721 (11,395) 0.06 [0.00, 0.13]
Z-Body mass index at birth 729 0.22 (1.16) 10,047 0.16 (1.14) 0.16 (1.14) 1.377 (10,774) 0.05 [–0.02, 0.12]
Child age (months) 847 30.80 (12.92) 10,934 30.40 (12.80) 30.43 (12.81) 0.872 (11,779) 0.03 [–0.03, 0.10]
Child age (months) Time 2 795 57.17 (12.91) 10,442 56.42 (12.77) 56.48 (12.78) 1.587 (11,235) 0.05 [–0.02, 0.11]
N%N%% x2p
Child gender Male 430 49.1 5,821 50.5 50.4 0.670 .413
Female 446 50.9 5,701 49.5 49.6
Marital status Single 231 26.4 3,375 29.3 29.1 3.37 .066
Couple 645 73.6 8,147 70.7 70.9
Type of delivery Vaginal 532 60.9 6,250 54.3 54.8 14.21 .001
Cesarean 342 39.1 5,263 45.7 45.2
Preterm birth yes 65 7.4 892 7.7 7.7 0.116 .733
no 810 92.6 10,621 92.3 92.3
Breastfeed yes 847 96.7 10,983 95.4 95.5 3.30 .069
no 29 3.3 534 4.6 4.5
Note: Descriptive statistics of demographic and family characteristics. Upper section shows N, mean (M), and standard deviation (SD) differences between eth-
nic groups were compared with ttest t(df) and effect size (d). The lower section shows correlation of different proportions as assessed by chi-squared test
(x2).*p,.001.
M. A. Navarrete et al.1964
This resulted in the following 10 deciles: 1 ¼less than
$64,000 ($118 USD); 2 ¼between $64,000 and $132,000
($244 USD); 3 ¼between $132,000 and $250,000 ($462
USD); 4 ¼between $250,000 and $350,000 ($647 USD);
5¼between $350,000 and $450,000 ($832 USD); 6 ¼be-
tween $450,000 and $650,000 ($1,201 USD); 7 ¼between
$650,000 and $850,000 ($1,571 USD); 8 ¼between
$850,000 and $1,050,000 ($1.940 USD); 9 ¼between
$1,050,000 and $1,250,000 ($2.310 USD); and 10 ¼more
than $1,250,000. For analysis, we divided the sample into
thirds, where low income represents the first three deciles,
from no salary to the minimal Chilean salary. The medium
family income included deciles 4, 5, and 6 (29.6% of the total
sample), and the high income included all the sample over
decile 7 (28.2%).
Maternal educational level. The level of maternal educa-
tion was self-reported using 19 categories ranging from no
education to postgraduate. We transformed these categories
into a 5-point scale (1 ¼no education or incomplete elemen-
tary;2¼incomplete secondary school;3¼secondary
school;4¼vocational education; and 5 ¼university studies).
Marital status. Mothers reported at the interview if they
were single, married, or divorced. We grouped in the category
single mother those who were single, separated, divorced, or
widowed. For the category couple, we considered those
mothers who indicated to be married or cohabiting. A sepa-
rate variable indicated whether the biological father was liv-
ing with the child.
Parental stress. The Parent Stress Index (Abidin, 1995)
was applied during the second wave of the Encuesta Longitu-
dinal de la Primera Infancia [Longitudinal Survey of Early
Childhood]. Thirty-six items of multiple choice were used
in an abbreviated version of the original scale. The scale re-
ports a global score, based on the mother’s perception of
the parental tasks. Higher scores mean higher level of stress.
Obstetric parameters. Information regarding type of de-
livery and breast feeding was collected by interviewers during
the first visit at Time 1. Mothers were asked whether they un-
derwent Cesarean delivery (yes/no), and for the period of
breastfeeding (how many months).
Mother’s personality characteristics neuroticism. The Big
Five Inventory (Casullo, 2000) was applied to all caregivers.
The scale is a self-report inventory and consist of 44 items
rated on a 5-point scale. The instrument measures five dimen-
sions of personality (extraversion, agreeableness, conscien-
tiousness, neuroticism, and openness). For our analysis, we
decide to use the neuroticism dimension, as there are impor-
tant variables measured as a self-report.
Quality of home environment. Quality of the home envi-
ronment was measured with an adapted version of the In-
Table 2. Descriptive statistics, groups comparisons, and Pearson correlations of outcome variables by ethnic groups at both time points
Outcome variables aMapuche Nonindigenous Total Correlationsbacross time points (r)
Physical growth (z-scores) N M (SD)NM(SD)M(SD)Range Kurtosis Skewness t (df)pd r
mrnirt
Body mass index 750 1.29 (1.25) 9,637 1.12 (1.19) 1.13 (1.20) 12.20 1.14 20.24 23.73 (10,385) .001 0.01 .36 .41 .41
702 1.22 (1.16) 9,341 1.04 (1.15) 1.05 (1.15) 12.30 0.98 20.25 23.80 (10,041) .001 0.14
Head circumference 810 20.44 (1.14) 10,448 20.44 (1.17) 20.44 (1.14) 7.43 0.11 20.31 20.10 (11,256) .921 0.00 .41 .41 .41
787 20.16 (1.28) 10,292 20.21 (1.22) 20.21 (1.22) 9.79 0.52 0.09 21.09 (11,077) .274 0.04
Behavioral problemsc
CBCL externalizing 667 58.48 (10.93) 8,615 59.37 (10.43) 59.31 (10.47) 72.00 0.05 0.08 2.11 (9,280) .034 0.08 .39 .42 .42
655 52.77 (12.16) 8,715 54.12 (11.87) 54.03 (11.89) 67.00 20.15 0.06 2.79 (9,368) .005 0.11
CBCL internalizing 667 60.27 (9.42) 8,615 59.20 (9.34) 59.28 (9.35) 64.00 0.07 20.26 22.85 (9,280) .004 0.11 .28 .35 .35
654 56.01 (12.23) 8,709 56.24 (11.30) 56.27 (11.37) 69.00 20.23 20.33 0.45 (9,361) .651 0.02
Note: aTime 1 above and Time 2 below. bpvalues for correlations are ,.001. Correlations are presented first for Mapuche (rm), nonindigenous (rni), and total sample (rt).
cThe values are t scores. CBCL, Child Behavior Checklist.
Child development and ethnicity in Chile 1965
fant/Toddler Home Observation for Measurement of the
Environment (IT-HOME) at Time 1 in 10,582 families in
the analyzed sample. For the majority of the sample (n¼
10,641; 97.7%), the adaptation of the Early Childhood
Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment
(EC-HOME; Caldwell & Bradley, 2003) was used at Time
2; in 240 families (4.6% Mapuche), the IT-HOME was
used at Time 2. In both measures, a restricted number of items
were selected (32 items for IT-HOME at Time 1 and 22 of the
32 items at Time 2, and 16 items of the 22 for EC-HOME).
Through the different time points and versions, the study
kept measuring the same subscales of the HOME: responsiv-
ity, acceptance, and provision of materials. The IT-HOME at
Time 1 measured two more subscales: organization and vari-
ety. Bivariate correlations between IT-HOME at Time 1 and
Time 2, and between IT-HOME and EC-HOME were compa-
rable (respectively, r¼.24 and r¼.26). Internal consistency
of both instruments was good, with a Cronbach’s aof 0.77
for the IT-HOME at Time 1, a¼0.75 for IT-HOME at
Time 2, and a¼0.81 for EC-HOME at Time 2. Because
of comparable content of items, correlations, and reliabilities,
we decided to aggregate scores across IT-HOME and EC-
HOME (at Time 2), resulting in one score for Time 2 (here-
after labeled as EC-HOME).
All the outcome variables and the HOME scale were mea-
sured at both time points, whereas background variables were
collected at Time 1 during the first interview.
Data analytic strategy
We explored differences in background variables of Mapuche
and nonindigenous ethnic groups. As independent samples t
test was performed on family characteristics and children
variables. For all means comparisons, we calculate the Co-
hen’s deffect sizes with the online calculator Practical
Meta-Analysis Effect Size Calculator. The formula used for
Cohen’s dwas d¼M1M2/spooled. For interpretation of ef-
fect size, we considered 0.8, 0.5, and 0.2 as large, medium,
and small, respectively (Cohen, 1988). Body mass index,
head circumference, and the development of internalizing
and externalizing behavioral problems were selected as devel-
opment outcomes. A ttest for independent samples was used
to test differences in outcomes across time points between
Mapuche and nonindigenous children. To test the association
between income and development outcomes, a series of uni-
variate analysis by one-way analyses of variance (ANOVAs)
across the three income groups (low, medium, and high) was
conducted. The post hoc analysis (Bonferroni) and eta square
were used to identify differences and to calculate effect sizes
between groups.
To explore the contribution of ethnicity to the prediction of
selected outcomes, a series of hierarchical regressions was
performed. In order to identify additional significant predic-
tors of child development outcomes, stepwise regression
analysis was conducted on body mass index, head circumfer-
ence, and development of behavioral problems (internalizing
and externalizing). Normality of residual variances, homo-
scedasticity, and absence of multicollinearity was tested for
each regression. Finally, for significant predictors, the mod-
erator role of ethnicity was tested using an interaction model
based on the multiple regressions. In the first step, the mea-
surement of the variable at the first time point was entered,
in the second step centered predictors were added, and in
the final step each interaction product between ethnicity and
a significant predictor was entered. A significant interaction
with ethnicity was a prerequisite for testing the regression
model in each of the two groups, Mapuche and non-Ma-
puche, in order to examine whether in one of the groups the
predictive model would be different from the regression
model in the total group.
Results
First, we tested for differences in means of background vari-
ables between Mapuche and nonindigenous families. Statisti-
cally significant differences were found in income and mater-
nal education (d¼0.32; d¼0.34, respectively). Mapuche
families showed lower income per capita (M¼3.88, SD ¼
1.63) than nonindigenous families (M¼4.58, SD ¼2.17)
and lower educational level on average (M¼3.06, SD ¼
0.90) than the majority group (M¼3.37, SD ¼0.89).
The quality of the home environment was significantly
higher for the nonindigenous families across time points
with moderate effect sizes (d¼0.45 for Time 1 and d¼
0.33 for Time 2). In addition, Mapuche mothers showed
higher scores on the parental stress index (M¼76.87, SD
¼24.15), than the nonindigenous mothers (M¼71.92, SD
¼22.33), with a small effect size (d¼0.22).
Considering the existence of differences in primary health-
care in Mapuche versus nonindigenous individuals in Chile
(Torri & Laplante, 2013), we analyzed several clinical vari-
ables known to be related with medical care during the peri-
natal period, such as type of delivery and breast feeding.
Regarding perinatal maternal variables (see Table 1), the
overall observed obstetric intervention rate was 45 per 100
live births. Our analysis revealed higher prevalence of Cesar-
ean delivery in nonindigenous (45.7%) as compared to Ma-
puche mothers (39.1%, p¼.001). The breast-feeding period
assessed in months was statistically higher (d¼0.17) for the
Mapuche group (M¼14.18, SD ¼9.62) than the nonindi-
genous group (M¼12.61, SD ¼9.06).
Physical growth
We then analyzed the trajectory of anthropometric measure-
ments including body mass index and head circumference
across available time points. Variables related to physical
growth were within the expected range for the Chilean popu-
lation for both Mapuche and nonindigenous children. Body
mass index was computed from measured weight and height
and then adjusted by age using the World Health Organiza-
tion references and values were reported in z-score (de Onis
M. A. Navarrete et al.1966
et al., 2004; WHO, 2011). At birth the body mass index was
M¼13.67 (SD ¼1.46; z-score ¼0.16; see Table 1). Ma-
puche newborns and nonindigenous children had similar
body mass index with no significant differences.
Children were assessed at the first time point at a mean age
of 30.43 months (SD ¼12.81). The mean z-score for body
mass index was M¼1.27 (SD ¼1.19), and for head circum-
ference was M¼–0.44 (SD ¼1.15). At the second time
point, at a mean age of 56.48 months (SD ¼12.78), the
mean z-score for body mass index was M¼1.05 (SD ¼
1.15) and for head circumference was M¼–0.21 (SD ¼
1.12). Correlations between the first and second time points
on physical growth ranged from r¼.36 to r¼.41 (all p,
.001; see Table 2). At follow-up there were statistically signif-
icant differences between Mapuche and nonindigenous chil-
dren for body mass index (d¼0.01 and d¼0.14), at both
time points, respectively (see Table 2 and Figure 1).
Next, we analyzed whether differences in body mass index
or head circumference are associated with the socioeconomic
status. A one-way ANOVA was performed to reveal univari-
ate differences in body mass index, and head circumference
between low, medium, and high income across time points.
At birth, there were significant differences on body mass in-
dex between groups, F(2, 9405) ¼7.135, p¼.001, h2¼
.001 (see Figure 1). Post hoc analysis (Bonferroni corrected)
showed that the low-income group had a higher z-score on
body mass index (M¼0.21, SD ¼1.15) than the high-in-
come group (M¼0.10, SD ¼1.15), and the difference was
statistically significant ( p¼.001). There were no differences
between the medium-income and the other two groups.
Statistical differences in body mass index between income
groups were found at the first measured time point,
F(2, 9114) ¼3.496, p¼.030, h2¼.001. Post-hoc analysis
(Bonferroni) showed that there is a significant difference be-
tween the low-income group and the high-income group ( p¼
.030). The low-income group showed higher score (M¼
1.16, SD ¼1.21) than the high-income group (M¼1.08,
SD ¼1.17). There was no significant difference between
the medium-income group and the other two groups. Post
hoc analysis showed no statistical differences at Time 2 be-
tween income groups, F(2, 9625) ¼1.435, p¼.238.
Head circumference was different between income groups
at both time points: first time point, F(2, 9873) ¼13.497, p¼
.001, h2¼.003; second time point, F(2, 10624) ¼8.370,
p¼.001, h2¼.002. Post hoc analysis showed that for the
two time points, the low-income group had a smaller head cir-
cumference (MTime1 ¼–0.50, SD ¼1.14; MTime2 ¼–0.27, SD
¼1.14) than the high-income group (MTime1 ¼–0.35, SD ¼
1.14; MTime2 ¼–0.15, SD ¼1.14), and these differences are
significant ( p¼.001 for both). For the medium-income
group at the first time point (MTime1 ¼–0.45, SD ¼1.16) dif-
ferences were statistically significant when compared with the
high-income group at the first time point ( p¼003), and not
with the low-income group ( p¼.303). At the second time
point, the post hoc analysis showed a significant difference
(p¼.017) between the low-income group (M¼–0.27, SD
¼1.23) and the medium-income group (M¼–0.19, SD ¼
1.23). There was also a significant difference ( p¼.001) be-
tween the low-income group and the high-income group
(M¼–0.15, SD ¼1.20), and no difference ( p¼.854) be-
tween the medium-income and high-income groups.
A series of hierarchical regressions were performed to ex-
plore the contribution of ethnicity on body mass index and
head circumference. Table 3 shows that the contribution is
Figure 1. Trajectories of physical development as assessed by age-adjusted child body mass index and head circumference. Body mass index was
analyzed at three different time points: Time 0, birth; Time 1, first interview; Time 2, second interview. Head circumference was measured at two
time points: Time 1, first interview Time 2, second interview. (a) Physical development according to ethnicity; and (b) physical development
according with income background. Significance of cross-sectional analysis is indicated for each time point, for two groups comparison ttests
are reported, and for three-group comparison, one-way analysis of variance significance is indicated.*p,.01.**p,.001.
Child development and ethnicity in Chile 1967
weak and only significant for body mass index measured at
Time 2 (b¼0.021, p¼.014), after confounders were added
into the equation. For head circumference, ethnicity did not
contribute to the prediction.
To identify significant predictors of body mass index and
head circumference, a stepwise regression analysis was per-
formed. As shown in Table 4, at average age of 4.5 years,
the most important predictor for physical development was
the previous measurement at average age of 2.5, and the re-
maining significant predictors showed a minimal contribu-
tion to the outcomes. Child gender contributed significantly
to predict head circumference (b¼–0.021 to 0.084), and
type of delivery did predict body mass index (b¼0.034),
and head circumference (b¼0.052). Parental stress nega-
tively predicted circumference (b¼–0.034). The quality of
the home environment at 2.5 years of age was a significant
predictor of head circumference. Finally, ethnicity was a
significant predictor only for body mass index (b¼0.008,
p,.01). Subsequently, we tested whether significant predic-
tors were moderated by ethnicity, but no significant role of
interaction terms was found neither for body mass index
(Ethnicity Type of Delivery interaction p¼.236) nor for
head circumference (EthnicityType of Delivery interaction
p¼.708, EthnicityGender interaction p¼.069, Ethnicity
Parental Stress interaction p¼.227, EthnicityHOME1 in-
teraction p¼.478).
Behavioral problems
According to the CBCL reports, for the total population, the
mean Tscores at the first time point for externalizing (M¼
59.31, SD ¼10.47) and internalizing (M¼59.28, SD ¼
Table 3. Association between ethnicity and physical growth at Time 2 in the Chilean ELPI sample
Ethnicity
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6
Physical growth bSE p bSE p bSE p bSE p bSE p bSE p
Body mass index 0.038 0.010 .001 0.032 0.009 .001 0.032 0.009 .001 0.022 0.008 .009 0.021 0.008 .014 0.021 0.009 .014
Head circumference 0.010 0.009 .274 0.007 0.009 .413 0.007 0.009 .450 0.009 0.009 .302 0.012 0.009 .199 0.013 0.009 .156
Note: For body mass index, Models 1–3 N¼12,398 and Models 4–6 N¼11,060. For head circumference, Model 1 N¼11,079; Models 2–3 N¼10,145; Models 4–6 N¼10,128.
Models were constructed using multiple hierarchical linear regression. Values are regression coefficients, standard errors, and pvalues. Model 1. Without adjustment. Model 2. Model 1 þbody mass index at birth /
head circumference at Time 1. Model 3. Model 2 þchild gender. Model 4.Model 3 þpreterm birth þweeks of gestation þbreastfeeding þtype of delivery. Model 5. Model 4 þincome þeducation þmarital status
þparental stress. Model 6. Model 5 þHome Observation for Measurement of the Environment at Time 1 þHome Observation for Measurement of the Environment at Time 2.
Table 4. Stepwise regression model to predict physical
growth at Time 2
Body mass
index
Head
circumference
Model R2.220 .184
Outcome at Time 1 .466 .399
Child gendera–– .084
Breast feeding time –– ––
Type of deliveryb.029 .052
Income –– ––
Maternal education –– ––
Marital statusc–– ––
Parental stress –– 2.034
HOME T1 –– .033
HOME T2 –– ––
Ethnicityd.022 .015
Note: Standardized beta value from the final equation is reported only for sig-
nificant predictors, except ethnicity that is always reported. Blue bars repre-
sent positive beta values and red bars negative values.aGender: 0 ¼male,1¼
female.bType of delivery: 0 ¼normal,1¼Cesarean.cMarital status: 0 ¼
single,1¼couple. Ethnicity: –1 ¼nonindigenous,1¼Mapuche.pvalue
is reported for ethnicity:* ,.05;** ,.01;*** ,.001
M. A. Navarrete et al.1968
9.35) were within the normal range (Tbelow 60), but there
were significant differences between the ethnic groups. Ma-
puche children showed less externalizing behavioral prob-
lems (M¼58.48, SD ¼10.93) than nonindigenous children
(M¼59.37, SD ¼10.43) at the first time point ( p¼.03, d¼
0.08), and statistically significant ( p¼.004, d¼0.11) more
internalizing problems (M¼60.27, SD ¼9.42), than the non-
indigenous children (M¼59.29, SD ¼9.34). At the second
measurement, the Tscores were lower for all scales (see
Table 2), and only the externalizing behavior problems re-
mained significantly different ( p¼.005, d¼0.11) between
Mapuche (M¼52.77, SD ¼12.16) and nonindigenous chil-
dren (M¼54.12, SD ¼11.87), higher for the latter group.
Across time, the CBCL scores for externalizing and internal-
izing correlated from r¼.28 to .42 (see Table 2).
One-way ANOVA analysis showed significant differences
between groups for low, medium, and high income in exter-
nalizing behavioral problems, F(2, 8159) ¼39.003, p¼
.001, and internalizing behavioral problems, F(2, 8159) ¼
121.452, p¼.001, at Time 1. Furthermore, at Time 2, there
were also significant differences between income groups in
externalizing behavioral problems, F(2, 8984) ¼32.698
p¼.001, and internalizing behavioral problems, F(2, 8977)
¼83.079, p¼.001. All the effect sizes of these differences
were small (h2¼.007 to .029). Post hoc analysis (Bonfer-
roni) indicated that for externalizing behavior problems at
Time 1, the low-income group (M¼60.24, SD ¼10.58)
and medium-income group (M¼59.73, SD ¼10.25) showed
a significant higher score ( p¼.001 for both) than the high-
income group (M¼57.81, SD ¼10.17). No significant dif-
ferences were found between low- and medium-income
groups ( p¼.195). For internalizing behavioral problems at
Time 1, low-income showed higher scores (M¼60.89,
SD ¼9.33) than the medium-income group (M¼59.47,
SD ¼8.97) and the high-income group (M¼57.01, SD ¼
9.27). There is also a significant difference between the last
two groups. All differences are p¼.001.
For externalizing behavior problems at Time 2, the low-in-
come group (M¼54.84, SD ¼12.13) and the medium-in-
come group (M¼54.16, SD ¼11.87) showed a significant
higher score ( p¼.001 for both) than the high-income group
(M¼52.40, SD ¼11.35). No significant differences were
found between the low- and medium-income groups ( p¼
.072). For internalizing behavioral problems at Time 2, the
low-income group showed higher scores (M¼57.64, SD ¼
11.63) than the medium-income group (M¼56.22, SD ¼
11.43) and the high-income group (M¼53.91, SD ¼
10.55). There is also a significant difference between the
last two groups. All differences are p,.001 (see Figure 2
for details).Figure 2
A series of hierarchical regressions were performed to
examine the ethnicity contribution to behavioral problems.
Table 5 shows that without any covariates Mapuche children
showed less externalizing problem behaviors at Time 2 (age
M¼56.48), but internalizing problems did not differ between
ethnicities. However, for externalizing and internalizing
problems, ethnicity predicted positive change across the
two time points (Mapuche children developed lower levels
of behavior problems from Time 1 to Time 2) when demo-
graphics and parental stress and neuroticism were added to
the equation (Model 4).
The stepwise regression analysis of behavioral problems
identified the previous score (at age 2.5 years) and parental
stress as the most significant predictors with a branging
from 0.319 to 0.360 for the 2.5-year measurement and
0.288 to 0.344 for parental stress. Child age contributed
negatively to internalizing and externalizing problems
(b¼–0.090; b¼–0.174, respectively). Female gender
predicted negatively externalizing problems (b¼–0.053).
The quality of the home environment contributed to the de-
velopment of behavioral problems when measured at Time
1(b¼0.067 and b¼0.045, for internalizing and external-
izing problems, respectively) but negatively when measured
at Time 2 (b¼–0.092 and b¼–0.114, for internalizing
Figure 2. Development of behavior problems as assessed by Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) score. The x-axis depicts income categories: low,
medium, high, and bar colors adscription to the Mapuche ethnic group (see text for details). Variables were analyzed at two time points: Time 1,
first interview; Time 2, second interview.
Child development and ethnicity in Chile 1969
and externalizing problems, respectively). Ethnicity nega-
tively contributed to predict behavioral problems in the final
equation (b¼–0.023 and b¼–0.026, for internalizing and
externalizing problems, respectively), meaning that Mapuche
children showed less behavior problems after controlling for
potential confounders. Other background variables modestly
contributing to behavioral problems are presented in Table 6.
The analysis to test the moderator role of ethnicity on child
behavioral problems showed that for externalizing problems,
there was a significant interaction between mother’s educa-
tion and ethnicity ( p¼.047) as well as between parental
stress and ethnicity ( p¼.014). However, for internalizing
behavioral problems, no interactions were found (Ethnicity
Age interaction p¼.190, EthnicityParental Stress inter-
action p¼.078, Ethnicity HOME1 interaction p¼.248,
Ethnicity HOME2 interaction p¼.556). The interactions
between parental stress and ethnicity as well as between eth-
nicity and maternal education for predicting the development
of externalizing problems were analyzed by separated regres-
sions. For the Mapuche group, parental stress was a somewhat
less strong predictor (b¼0.422) than for the nonindigenous
children (b¼0.469). For the Mapuche group, maternal edu-
cation was a somewhat stronger predictor (b¼0.103) than
for the nonindigenous group (b¼0.038). In both cases the
direction of the association was the same.
Discussion
Results of this study suggest that children from the Mapuche
ethnic group experience a different developmental niche than
nonindigenous children. These differences in developmental
Table 5. Association between ethnicity and Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) problem behaviors at Time 2 in the Chilean ELPI sample (N ¼12,398)
Ethnicity
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5
CBCL problem behaviors bSE p bSE p bSE P bSE p bSE p
Externalizing 20.021 0.009 .018 20.012 0.008 .127 20.010 0.008 .196 20.025 0.007 .001 20.027 0.007 .001
Internalizing 0.003 0.010 .760 20.009 0.008 .248 20.009 0.009 .291 20.021 0.008 .006 20.022 0.008 .005
Total problems 20.006 0.009 .491 20.010 0.008 .185 20.009 0.008 .250 20.023 0.007 .001 20.025 0.007 .001
Note: Models were constructed using multiple hierarchical linear regression. Values are regression coefficients, standard errors, and pvalues. Model 1. Without adjustment.
Model 2. Model 1 þCBCL at Time 1. Model 3. Model 2 þchild age þchild gender. Model 4. Model 3 þincome þeducation þmarital status þparental stress þBig Five Inventory neuroticism.
Model 5. Model 4 þHome Observation for Measurement of the Environment at Time 1 þHome Observation for Measurement of the Environment at Time 2.
Table 6. Stepwise regression model to predict behavior
problems at Time 2
CBCL
Internalizing
CBCL
Externalizing
Model R2.272 .386
Variable Standarized ß
Outcome at Time 1 .323 .363
Child age at Time 2 20.091 20.142
Child gendera20.054
Income — —
Maternal education .043
Marital statusb20.029
BFI neuroticism
Parental stress .292 .334
HOME T1 .062 .048
HOME T2 20.094 20.111
Ethnicityc20.021** 20.028
Note: Standardized beta value from the final equation is reported only for sig-
nificant predictors, except ethnicity, which is always reported. Blue bars
represent positive beta values and red bars negative values. aGender:–1 ¼
male,1¼female.bMarital status: –1 ¼single,1¼couple.cEthnicity: –1
¼nonindigenous,1¼Mapuche.pvalue is reported for ethnicity:*
,.01;** ,.001.
M. A. Navarrete et al.1970
conditions can be traced back at least to birth. Mapuche chil-
dren seem to develop in less favorable conditions, in particu-
lar when looking at variables imposed by the wider socioeco-
nomic context such as family income, maternal education,
parenting stress, and quality of the home environment.
We first hypothesized that Mapuche children would have
similar results on physical outcomes across time points, with
more behavioral problems than nonindigenous children.
Based on our data, the first hypothesis was only partially con-
firmed. Mapuche and nonindigenous children showed similar
anthropometric parameters at birth. However, during follow-
up, Mapuche children showed development trajectories char-
acterized by an increasing body mass index.
Data at birth is consistent with previous results showing
the absence of an ethnic disparity in birth weight and height
despite substantial socioeconomic disadvantages in the indi-
genous population (Amigo et al., 2010). Bustos et al. (2009)
have reported that throughout the last decade (years 1997–
2005), there was a marked decrease in stunting in children
with a strong indigenous background, accompanied by an in-
crease in obesity (Bustos et al., 2009).
Converging with this overall secular trend, our study
carried out one decade later found that the higher body
mass index of Mapuche children confirm obesity as an
emerging issue. Bustos et al. explain differences in height
by socioeconomic factors. We hypothesized that socioeco-
nomic status will predict outcomes in Chilean children in var-
ious domains of growth and development. At the physical
level, lower income was associated with smaller head circum-
ference and increased body mass index although the latter dif-
ference was no longer present at the second assessment time
at 4.5 years of age. As head circumference may represent a
crude estimate of overall structural brain development (Treit
et al., 2016), all together this data suggests that low income
in Chile still may impose restriction on physical development
with potential implications for other developmental domains.
We tried to further understand the relative contribution of
income and ethnicity in a stepwise hierarchical regression
analysis, in which ethnicity remained a significant predictor
only for body mass index and income did not contribute to
the final equation. The identification of the main determinants
of physical growth differences warrants future investigation.
We finally tested for differences in behavioral problems
between ethnic groups. We were not able to support our hy-
pothesis, as Mapuche children showed unexpectedly less ex-
ternalizing behavioral problems across time points. In con-
trast, the Mapuche group showed more internalizing
problems when children were 30 months old, but this differ-
ence disappeared during follow-up. When controlling for de-
mographics and family variables, in a series of hierarchical
regressions ethnicity remained a significant predictor of be-
havioral problems but in the opposite direction: Mapuche tod-
dlers showed a (rather small) decrease in externalizing and in-
ternalizing problems across the 2-year time period. With
respect to our second hypothesis, lower income level groups
were associated with higher levels of externalizing and inter-
nalizing problems. However, when income was tested in a
multivariate regression, it no longer predicted behavioral
problems, whereas the quality of the home environment and
parenting stress, and to a lesser extent and in opposite direc-
tion ethnicity, significantly contributed to the final equation.
Furthermore, a higher level of maternal education was associ-
ated with more externalizing behavior problems.
Several studies have reported on the influence of culture
on the expression of emotions (Halberstadt & Lozada,
2011; Mesquita, 2001). Particularly, collectivist cultures,
such as Mapuche (Rommens, 2017), tend to discourage the
free expression of negative emotions such as anger (Eid & Di-
ener, 2001; Markus & Kitayama, 1991). This culture-related
inhibition of negative emotions expression may explain dif-
ferences in externalizing problems and may constitute an
important resilience mechanism to protect Mapuche children
from developing behavioral problems. Long-term follow-up
should document possible negative effects of such inhibition
of the expression of emotions.
The analysis of interaction terms showed that ethnicity acts
as a moderator of parental stress and maternal education on
the development of externalizing behavioral problems. In re-
sponse to multiple and constant exposure to stressors such as
prejudice and acculturation (Dunbar et al., 2000), Mapuche
families may become more resilient to the effect of stress
than the nonindigenous population during early parenting.
However, maternal education acts as a stronger predictor of
child behavioral problems in Mapuche families. It can be
speculated that higher level of parent education in the Ma-
puche families may result in a higher level of collision be-
tween values, customs, and worldview. For instance, more
educated mothers have in Chile more access to private
schools, in contrast to less educated mothers who usually
send their child to public schools, and the latter school system
has higher levels of integration and cultural pertinence.
Our study also enabled the analysis of additional biomedi-
cal and developmental parameters. The obstetric intervention
rate observed in our cohort is alarmingly surpassing more
than three times World Health Organization recommenda-
tions. This data support previous results indicating that in
Chile there is a higher rate of obstetric interventions as com-
pared with other Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development countries (Murray, 2012). The Cesarean
delivery rate is also increasing in many other countries, a phe-
nomenon that may be associated to economic development
(Molina et al., 2015) and cultural behavior (Stoll et al.,
2017). In our analysis, there was a higher prevalence of Cesar-
ean delivery in nonindigenous as compared to Mapuche
mothers, which may be the result of the differences in the
worldview between the different (sub)cultures. We consid-
ered the type of delivery as a variable of interest in child de-
velopment as a retrospective study reported that obstetric
variables may have an impact on school achievement, intelli-
gence, and neuropsychological development (Gonzalez-
Mesa, Cazorla-Granados, & Gonzalez-Valenzuela, 2016).
In particular, vaginal delivery was associated to better scores
Child development and ethnicity in Chile 1971
in the areas of reading accuracy, total reading, phonetic ortho-
graphy, visual orthography, calculation, writing, articulatory
language, expressive language, spatial structuring, visual per-
ception, nonverbal development, and matrixes.
Unexpectedly, we found that parental stress emerged as
one of the most important predictors of the development of
behavioral problems. According to the family stress model
proposed by Conger and Donnellan (2007), parental stress
is associated with significant developmental difficulties for
children in particular when poverty is severe and persistent.
Poverty and income inequality in Chile is a secular phenom-
enon affecting child environment (Ca
´rcamo, van der Veer,
Vermeer, & van IJzendoorn, 2014). In our data set an inverse
association was found between parental stress and compo-
nents of socioeconomic status (maternal education and in-
come, data not shown), further supporting this assumption;
therefore, this issue deserves further investigation. In addi-
tion, modernization or contact with another—dominant—cul-
ture has been seen as a possible source of stress (Garcı
´a Coll
et al., 2000). The Mapuche culture seems to be undergoing
such a process of increasing interactions with the dominant
culture, and is currently in the process of being assimilated
into the mainstream Chilean society (Caniguan, 2012). This
two sources of stress, low income and increased acculturation
pressures, could potentially explain the higher level of parent-
ing stress. Parenting stress therefore seems a potentially fruit-
ful target of policy and interventions to enhance the quality of
the developmental niche for the children involved.
Despite the strengths of this study, including longitudinal
data on one of the largest developmental samples worldwide,
and certainly unique for lower resource countries, covering
several domains of the child development, it has some limita-
tions. The instruments were derived from research in WEIRD
(Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic) con-
texts and not specifically transformed and validated for use in
ethnic minorities. Therefore, interpretation of tests may be af-
fected by cultural factors even before data-analysis. However,
CBCL, for example, has been widely used in non-Western
societies as well, and with satisfactory predictive validity
(Achenbach & Rescorla, 2000). Finally, the lack of informa-
tion on individual scale items within the instruments preclu-
ded the computation of test reliability for the current study.
Nevertheless, all the instruments applied in the Encuesta Lon-
gitudinal de la Primera Infancia [Longitudinal Survey of
Early Childhood] study have been extensively used and
shown to be reliable and valid.
To our best knowledge, this is the first study based on lon-
gitudinal empirical data addressing differences in child devel-
opment in a Mapuche compared to a nonindigenous popula-
tion. Mapuche children seem to develop in an adverse
environment characterized by lower income, higher parental
stress, and lower maternal education. Some of these factors
may affect physical and psychological child development.
However, Mapuche families also seem to have developed
several strategies driven by sociocultural patterns and cus-
toms that may help their children to strive and develop even
with less behavioral problems than the nonindigenous popu-
lation. Yet ethnicity seems to play a minor role in predicting
development in Chilean toddlers compared to socioeconomic
status and parenting stress.
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Table A.1. Association between ethnicity and physical growth at Time 2 in the nonimputed Chilean ELPI sample
Ethnicity
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6
Physical growth bSE p bSE p bSE p bSE p bSE p bSE p
Body mass index 0.038 0.010 .001 0.026 0.011 .016 0.026 0.011 .015 0.024 0.011 .025 0.017 0.013 .173 0.024 0.013 .060
Head circumference 0.010 0.009 .274 0.007 0.009 .413 0.007 0.009 .450 0.009 0.009 .335 0.014 0.011 .183 0.014 0.011 .208
Note: For body mass index, Model 1 N¼10,043, Models 2–3 N¼8,733,Model 4 N¼7,007, Model 5 N¼5,388, and Model 6 N¼5,152. For head circumference, Model 1 N¼11,079, Models 2–3 N¼10,145,
Model 4 N¼9,389,Model 5 N¼7,179, and Model 6 N¼6,877. Models were constructed using multiple hierarchical linear regression. Values are regression coefficients, standard errors, and pvalues. Model
1. Without adjustment. Model 2. Model 1 þbody mas index at birth / head circumference at Time 1. Model 3. Model 2 þchild gender. Model 4. Model 3 þpreterm birth þweeks of gestation þbreastfeeding
þtype of delivery. Model 5. Model 4 þincome þeducation þmarital status þparental stress. Model 6. Model 5 þHome Observation for Measurement of the Environment at Time 1 þHome Observation for
Measurement of the Environment at Time 2.
Appendix A
Table A.2. Association between ethnicity and Chile Behavior Checklist (CBCL) problem behaviors in the nonimputed Chilean ELPI sample
Ethnicity
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5
CBCL problem behaviors bSE p bSE p bSE P bSE p bSE p
Internalizing 20.005 .010 .628 20.011 0.011 .338 20.010 0.011 .382 20.023 0.013 .074 20.026 0.013 .043
Externalizing 20.029 .010 .005 20.024 0.011 .033 20.021 0.011 .056 20.037 0.012 .002 20.042 0.012 .001
Note: For CBCL externalizing, Model 1 N¼9,370, Models 2–3, N¼6,742, Model 4 N¼5,041, and Model 5 N¼4,934. CBCL internalizing, the Model 1 N¼9,363,
Models 2–3 N¼6,738, Model 4 N¼5,037, and Model 5 N¼4,930. Models were constructed using multiple hierarchical linear regression. Values are regression coefficients, standard errors, and pvalues.
Model 1. Without adjustment. Model 2. Model 1 þCBCL at Time 1. Model 3. Model 2 þchild age þchild gender. Model 4. Model 3 þincome þeducation þmarital status þparental stress þBig Five Inventory
neuroticism. Model 5. Model 4 þHome Observation for Measurement of the Environment at Time 1 þHome Observation for Measurement of the Environment at Time 2.
Child development and ethnicity in Chile 1975
Table A.4. Stepwise regression model using nonimputed
data to predict cognitive skills and behavior problems
CBCL
Internalizing
CBCL
Externalizing
Model R2.210 .310
Outcome at Time 1 .281 .314
Child age at Time 2 20.059 20.118
Child gendera20.045
Income — —
Maternal education
Marital statusb——
BFI neuroticism
Parental stress .262 .309
HOME T1 .057 .039
HOME T2 20.104 20.124
Ethnicityc20.025** 20.042
Note: Standardized beta value from the final equation is reported only for sig-
nificant predictors, except ethnicity, which is always reported. Blue bars
represent positive beta values and red bars negative values.aGender: –1 ¼
male,1¼female.bType of delivery: –1 ¼normal,1¼Cesarean.cMarital
status: –1 ¼single,1¼couple.dEthnicity: –1 ¼nonindigenous,1¼Ma-
puche.pvalue is reported for ethnicity:* ,.05;** ,.01.
Table A.3. Stepwise regression model using nonimputed
data to predict physical growth in the Chilean ELPI
sample
Body mass
index
Head
circumference
Model R2.179 .193
Outcome at Time 1 .421 .415
Child gendera— .074
Breast feeding time
Type of deliveryb— .053
Income — —
Maternal education
Marital statusc——
Parental stress
HOME T1 .044
HOME T2
Ethnicityd.031 .014
Note:. Standardized beta value from the final equation is reported only for
significant predictors, except ethnicity, which is always reported. Blue bars
represent positive beta values. aGender: –1 ¼male,1¼female.bType of de-
livery: –1 ¼normal,1¼Cesarean.cMarital status: –1 ¼single,1¼couple.
dEthnicity: –1 ¼nonindigenous,1¼Mapuche.pvalue is reported for eth-
nicity:* ,.05;** ,.01;*** ,.001.
M. A. Navarrete et al.1976
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