American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 643-672

First online:

Personal Resources and the Social Distribution of Depression

  • R. Jay TurnerAffiliated withFlorida International UniversityR. Jay Turner, Ph.D., School of Policy and Management, College of Urban and Public Affairs, Florida International University
  • , Donald A. LloydAffiliated withFlorida International University
  • , Patricia RoszellAffiliated withIBM Corporation

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This paper addresses the hypothesis that gender, age, marital status, and SES matter for depression partly because of associated differences in the availability and/or impact of the personal resources of mastery and self-esteem. It is argued that findings indicating that the social distributions of these resources complement those for depression would provide preliminary support for this hypothesis. Based on a large urban community sample (n = 1,390), our findings fail to support the availability hypothesis in relation to marital status, provide only modest support in reference to age and gender, but yield compelling support in relation to socioeconomic status (SES). Indeed, variations in the availability of these resources, especially mastery, provide a largely, if not entirely, adequate explanation for the SES–depressive symptoms relationship and accounts for nearly half of the SES–Major Depressive Disorder relationship. Although the significance of mastery was more pronounced among women and unmarried persons, such differences did not contribute to understanding observed gender or marital status variations in depression.

depression social status self-esteem mastery stress