Socioeconomic status and adolescent mental disorders.
OBJECTIVES: Although previous research has shown that low socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with mental illness, it is unclear which aspects of SES are most important. We investigated this issue by examining associations between 5 aspects of SES and adolescent mental disorders. METHODS: Data came from a national survey of US adolescents (n = 6483). Associations among absolute SES (parental income and education), relative SES (relative deprivation, subjective social status), and community level income variation (Gini coefficient) with past-year mental disorders were examined. RESULTS: Subjective social status (mean 0, variance 1) was most consistently associated with mental disorder. Odds ratios with mood, anxiety, substance, and behavior disorders after controlling for other SES indicators were all statistically significant and in the range of 0.7 to 0.8. Associations were strongest for White adolescents. Parent education was associated with low risk for anxiety disorder, relative deprivation with high risk for mood disorder, and the other 2 indicators were associated with none of the disorders considered. CONCLUSIONS: Associations between SES and adolescent mental disorders are most directly the result of perceived social status, an aspect of SES that might be more amenable to interventions than objective aspects of SES.
McLaughlin, KA; Costello, EJ; Leblanc, W; Sampson, NA; Kessler, RC
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