A Cross-National Comparison of the Development of Adolescent Problem Behavior: a 1-Year Longitudinal Study in India, the Netherlands, the USA, and Australia

Bosco Rowland, H. Jonkman, M. Steketee, Renati J. Solomon, Shreeletha Solomon, J. W. Toumbourou

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12 Citations (Scopus)


The world youth population is the largest ever and the levels of problem behavior will influence future global health. Recognition of these issues raises questions as to whether adolescent development knowledge can be internationally applied. To date, most research examining adolescent problem behavior has been completed in the United States (USA) and there has been neglected analysis of health inequalities. The aim of the present study was to compare the structure and predictors of problem behavior in representative samples from the USA, Australia, India, and the Netherlands. Two timepoints of longitudinal data were analyzed from the International Youth Development Study that originally recruited state-representative student cohorts in 2002 in Washington State, USA (analytic sample N = 1942) and Victoria, Australia (N = 1957). Similar aged samples were recruited in Mumbai, India, in 2010 (N = 3.923) and the Netherlands in 2008 (N = 682). Surveys were matched and follow-up occurred over 1-year (average baseline ages 12 to 13). CFA identified a latent problem behavior construct comprised of substance use and antisocial behavior indicators. There were cross-national differences in the indicators for this construct. Factor loadings and items were similar between Australia and the USA; however, different items loaded on the construct for the Indian and Netherlands sample. SEM identified that problem behavior at time 2 was predicted by time 1 behavior, with cross-national differences evident. Low parent education was predictive in the USA and India. The number of risk factors present was predictive of problem behavior in all four nations. The findings suggest that evaluated preventative strategies to reduce adolescent problem behavior may have international applications. The analysis of cross-nationally matched longitudinal data appears feasible for identifying prevalence and predictor differences that may signify policy and cultural contexts, to be considered in adapting prevention programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-72
Number of pages11
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Cross-national
  • Longitudinal
  • Problem behavior

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