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Early Economic Disadvantage, Maternal Support, and Depressive Symptoms among Black Americans in Young Adulthood

Sun, August 12, 8:30 to 9:30am, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Floor: Level 5, Salon G


Substantial associations between childhood economic disadvantage and adult mental health have been acknowledged within social science research. However, there is a scarcity of research examining this relationship among Black Americans, as well as the sociocultural factors that may assist Black Americans in dealing with the effects of childhood economic disadvantage. This study suggests that family structure, specifically maternal support, may be a significant resource for Black Americans in the face of early economic disadvantage and mental health outcomes. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, a nationally representative sample of Black Americans, this study outlines a series of arguments linking childhood economic disadvantage, maternal support, and depressive symptoms among Black young adults. The results suggest some support for maternal support’s involvement in moderating – or buffering - the harmful effects of childhood economic hardship on depressive symptoms of Black Americans, specifically the familial context in which the maternal support is perceived. Study limitations are identified and several promising directions for future research are discussed.