Articles & Special Issues Race, Inequality & Social Mobility

The Relationship Between Socioeconomic Position and Depression Among a US Nationally Representative Sample of African Americans

 Findings from previous studies have not revealed significant, inverse relationships between socioeconomic position (SEP) and depression among African Americans. This study examined the relationship between multiple indicators of SEP and Major Depressive Episode (MDE) among African Americans. Data were drawn from the National Survey of American Life main interview and re-interview. MDE, at both 12 month and lifetime intervals, was assessed using the World Mental Health version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Logistic regression models were adjusted for demographics. For 12-month MDE, household income and unemployment predicted greater odds of MDE among African American men, while there was an inverse relationship between education and 12-month MDE. Only unemployment was significantly associated with lifetime MDE among African American men. For African American women, a significant inverse relationship between household income and 12-month MDE was observed. Findings garnered from this study indicate that it is important to consider multiple measures of SEP in the prediction of depression among African Americans, and that the pattern of association between SEP and depression varies according to sex. Considering the paucity of studies that have explored the relationship between SEP and depression, additional research is needed to more firmly establish the relationship between SEP and depression. It is also important to consider stressors that may affect the relationship between SEP and depression among African Americans.

Project: Costs of Upward Social Mobility


Hudson, D. L., Neighbors, H. W., Geronimus, A. T., & Jackson, J. S. (2012). The Relationship between socioeconomic position and depression among a US nationally representative sample of African Americans. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 47(3), 373–381. doi:10.1007/s00127-011-0348-x