Original Paper

American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 359-366

First online:

Economic Adversity and Depressive Symptoms in Mothers: Do Marital Status and Perceived Social Support Matter?

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Over the past decade there has been increasing interest in the idea that marriage and perhaps other forms of interpersonal support can buffer the negative effects of poverty. The current study tests the hypothesis that marital status, perceived social support and neighborhood collective efficacy can moderate the effects of economic adversity on depressive symptoms among parents. Hierarchical Linear Modeling was used to analyze data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. Participants were 1,957 mothers of minor children. Analysis of main effects revealed associations between neighborhood SES (β = −0.69, SE (0.15), p < .001), family income (β = −0.11, SE (0.05), p = .02) financial strain (β = 0.51, SE (0.18), p = .004), being single (β = 0.63, SE (0.24), p = .009) and perceived social support (β = −0.22, SE (0.03), p < .001) on depressive symptoms. The hypothesis that interpersonal resources can buffer the effects of economic adversity was not supported. There were no significant interactions between marital status and economic adversity. There was a significant interaction between perceived social support and neighborhood level socioeconomic status (β = −0.07, SE (0.03), p = .04) but the effects of social support were weakest in neighborhoods characterized by low socioeconomic status.


Depression Parents Social support Marital status Poverty Neighborhood collective efficacy