High socioeconomic status (SES), particularly higher parental education, increases the risk of depression for black youth, according to a study conducted by The MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC).
Senior author Elizabeth Goodman, MD, of the MGHfC Division of General Academic Pediatrics said, "High socioeconomic status, particularly higher parent education, is known to be protective against depressive symptoms in young adults. For black youth, we found that higher parental education is a double-edged sword, buffering against the development of depression but also leading to increased discrimination, which in and of itself causes depression."
21-26 years old 545 youth were part of the study. They were enrolled 9-years back from a Midwestern suburban school system. Participants were surveyed about both perceived lifetime ethnic discrimination and recent depressive symptoms using well validated measures of both.
Among the 296 non-Hispanic white participants, perceptions of lifetime discrimination steadily decreased as levels of parental education increased. But among the 249 non-Hispanic black participants, who reported more lifetime discrimination overall, the relationship between education and discrimination was more complex. Black participants whose parents had advanced or professional degrees reported the greatest perceived discrimination of all, almost twice as high as white young adults from similarly educated families and 1.2 times higher than black participants whose parents had a high school education or less.
Study lead author Erika Cheng, PhD, MPA, MGHfC Center for Child and Adolescent Health Research and Policy said, "Among all participants, whether black or white, we found that, the more discrimination young adults reported feeling, the more likely they were to report symptoms of depression."
The study is published online in the 'Journal of Pediatrics'.