Articles & Special Issues Race, Inequality & Social Mobility

Are Benefits Conferred With Greater Socioeconomic Position Undermined by Racial Discrimination Among African American Men?

 Conventional wisdom suggests that increased socioeconomic resources should be related to better health. Considering the body of evidence demonstrating the significant association between racial discrimination and depression, we examined whether exposure to racial discrimination could attenuate the positive effects of increased levels of socioeconomic position (SEP) among African Americans. Specifically, this paper investigated the joint interactive effects of SEP and racial discrimination on the odds of depression among African Americans. Racial discrimination was measured using two measures, major and everyday discrimination. Study objectives were achieved using data from the National Survey of American Life, which included a nationally representative sample of African Americans (n = 3570). Logistic regression models were used to estimate the effects of SEP and racial discrimination on the odds of depression. Reports of racial discrimination were associated with increased risk of depression among African American men who possessed greater levels of education and income. Among African American men, significant, positive interactions were observed between education and experiences of major discrimination, which were associated with greater odds of depression (P = 0.02). Additionally, there were positive interactions between income and both measures of racial discrimination (income x everyday discrimination, P = 0.013; income x major discrimination, P = 0.02), which were associated with increased odds of depression (P = 0.02). It is possible that experiences of racial discrimination could, in part, diminish the effects of increased SEP among African American men.

Project: Costs of Upward Social Mobility


Hudson, D. L., Bullard, K. M., Neighbors, H. W., Geronimus, A. T., Yang, J., & Jackson, J. S. (2012). Are benefits conferred with greater socioeconomic position undermined by racial discrimination among African American men? Journal of Men’s Health, 9(2), 127–136. doi:10.1016/j.jomh.2012.03.006