Socioeconomic status, neighborhood disadvantage, and poverty-related stress: Prospective effects on psychological syndromes among diverse low-income families
Living with persistent poverty is toxic for one's psychological health. This study examined SES, income, neighborhood disadvantage, and poverty-related stress as predictors of a wide range of psychological problems including anxiety, depression, aggression, relationship problems, physical problems, and trouble with the law. Longitudinal analyses were conducted with a low-income multiethnic sample of 98 families recruited from the greater Denver, CO metropolitan area (300 family members: 136 adults, 82 preadolescents, 82 adolescents) using hierarchical linear modeling to predict all eight ASEBA narrow band syndromes. Analyses showed that poverty-related stress was directly related to anxious/depressed symptoms and social problems and interacted with prior symptoms, contributing to worsening symptoms for delinquency, attention problems, somatic complaints, and anxious/depressed symptoms. Hollingshead SES also had direct predictive effects for certain syndromes, though these effects were in the opposite direction predicted. In contrast, lower income-to-needs predicted more problems as expected. Neighborhood disadvantage also predicted psychological syndromes. Developmental differences are discussed. Our data show that parents are not the only family members who are affected by stress from living in poverty. SES, neighborhood disadvantage and poverty-related stress take a toll on children, adolescents, and adults.
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