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Socioeconomic Predictors and Social Factors that Influence Psychological Distress among Working-aged African Americans in a Post-industrial City

Citation

Dennis, Alexis C. (Forthcoming). Socioeconomic Predictors and Social Factors that Influence Psychological Distress among Working-aged African Americans in a Post-industrial City. Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race.

Abstract

While the socioeconomic status (SES)–psychological distress gradient is well-documented in the social science literature, less attention has been devoted to how this relationship varies within sociodemographic subgroups. I contribute to this small but growing literature by first examining the relationship between multiple dimensions of SES and two measures of psychological distress (depression and anxiety) among working-aged African Americans. I then test whether three social mediators explain the SES–psychological distress relationship, and whether gender modifies these associations and/or the social mediators that shape them. To address these aims, I analyze two waves of population-representative data from the Detroit Neighborhood Health Study (N=685). Data were collected between 2008 and 2010 in the wake of the Great Recession. I utilize structural equation modeling with latent variables to assess these relationships, and test indirect and conditional effects to detect the presence of mediation and/or moderation, respectively. Findings revealed associations between higher total household income and lower levels of depression/anxiety, as well as unemployment and increased depression/anxiety among working age African Americans. Furthermore, higher educational attainment was associated with reduced anxiety, but not depression, in this population. Gender moderated these findings such that unemployment was associated with higher levels of depression/anxiety among women but not men. I also found that trauma mediated the relationship between unemployment and depression/anxiety as well as educational attainment and anxiety. Gender, however, moderated the association between unemployment and depression/anxiety via traumatic events such that the relationship was stronger among women than men. Collectively, these findings contribute to our limited understanding of African Americans’ mental health and underscore the importance of how both socioeconomic forces and life course experiences with traumatic events contribute to poor mental health among this population.

Reference Type

Journal Article

Article Type

Regular

Year Published

Forthcoming

Journal Title

Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race

Author(s)

Dennis, Alexis C.

Data Set/Study

Detroit Neighborhood Health Study

Continent/Country

United States of America

State

Michigan

Race/Ethnicity

African-American