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Contextual Determinants of Children's Responses to Poverty

Jane D. McLeod and Kevan Edwards
Social Forces
Vol. 73, No. 4 (Jun., 1995), pp. 1487-1516
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2580456
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2580456
Page Count: 30
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Contextual Determinants of Children's Responses to Poverty
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Abstract

Research on the socioeconomic correlates of mental health has tended to focus either on aggregate-level indicators of status, such as the economic deprivation of a neighborhood, or on individual-level indicators, such as income. In this article, we combine the two approaches by estimating models to evaluate the independent and joint contributions of family poverty and residential characteristics to children's mental health. The data are from the 1988 Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth data set. Family poverty and residential characteristics independently predict children's mental health. Family poverty also interacts with some residential characteristics when predicting mental health, although the interactions vary substantially by race/ethnicity. For example, poor Hispanic children living with same-race peers are in better mental health than poor Hispanic children who are culturally isolated but the same interaction is not observed in other groups. In general, the effects of poverty and residential characteristics are stronger for Hispanics and American Indians than they are for blacks and whites.

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