Race and Social Problems

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 119–128 | Cite as

Low Social Status Markers: Do They Predict Depressive Symptoms in Adolescence?

  • Benita Jackson
  • Elizabeth Goodman


Some markers of social disadvantage are associated robustly with depressive symptoms among adolescents: female gender and lower socioeconomic status (SES), respectively. Others are associated equivocally, notably black v. white race/ethnicity. Few studies examine whether markers of social disadvantage by gender, SES, and race/ethnicity jointly predict self-reported depressive symptoms during adolescence; this was our goal. Secondary analyses were conducted on data from a socioeconomically diverse community-based cohort study of non-Hispanic black and white adolescents (N = 1,263, 50.4% female). Multivariable general linear models tested whether female gender, black race/ethnicity, and lower SES (assessed by parent education and household income) and their interactions predicted greater depressive symptoms reported on the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Models adjusted for age and pubertal status. Univariate analyses revealed more depressive symptoms in females, blacks, and participants with lower SES. Multivariable models showed females across both racial/ethnic groups reported greater depressive symptoms; blacks demonstrated more depressive symptoms than did whites, but when SES was included this association disappeared. Exploratory analyses suggested blacks gained less mental health benefit from increased SES. However, there were no statistically significant interactions among gender, race/ethnicity, or SES. Taken together, we conclude that complex patterning among low social status domains within gender, race/ethnicity, and SES predicts depressive symptoms among adolescents.


Depressive symptoms Adolescents Gender Socioeconomic status Race/ethnicity 



This project was supported by grant #2151 from the WT Grant Foundation and National Institutes of Health grant HD41527. Portions of this manuscript were presented at the Association for Psychological Science 19th Annual Convention. The authors thank the students, parents, teachers, and administrators of the Princeton City School District and the PSD Study staff. Thanks also to Christina Souza and Victoria Churchill for support with manuscript preparation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySmith CollegeNorthamptonUSA
  2. 2.Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy, MassGeneral Hospital for ChildrenBostonUSA

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