Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Children’s Emergency Mental Health After Economic Downturns
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African American children—more than other race/ethnicities—rely on emergency psychiatric care. One hypothesized cause of this overrepresentation involves heightened sensitivity to economic downturns. We test whether the African American/white difference in psychiatric emergency visits increases in months when the regional economy contracts. We applied time-series methods to California Medicaid claims (1999–2008; N = 7.1 million visits). One month following mass layoffs, African American youths use more emergency mental health services than do non-Hispanic whites. Economic downturns may provoke or uncover mental disorder especially among African American youth who by and large do not participate in the labor force.