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Financial Stress and the Relative Income Hypothesis Among Black College Students


The majority of college students experience financial stress, but not all experience it with the same frequency or intensity. Research suggests Black students experience a greater intensity of financial stress than their White peers do. This study revealed a link between perception of relative consumption and financial stress among 965 Black students at 52 predominantly White colleges and universities in the United States. The relative income hypothesis (RIH) literature offers potential mediators of financial stress. The findings have implications for families, college students, therapists, financial educators, and school administrators.

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The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (Grant No. 74737) provided funding for this study. The author is independent of the funders.

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Correspondence to Kenneth J. White Jr..

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White, K.J. Financial Stress and the Relative Income Hypothesis Among Black College Students. Contemp Fam Ther 42, 25–32 (2020).

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