Socioeconomic Status and Psychopathology among Men: A Test of the Causation-Selection Issue

Marilyn Sinkewicz, University of Wisconsin at Madison

While the need for gender-sensitive research focused on women’s mental health has been recognized, studies specifically tailored to disability burdens among men are evolving more slowly. Moreover, a lack of data, especially with respect to poor men and men of colour, presents a challenge. This paper uses a policy relevant, racially diverse sample of fathers from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to assess the predictive value of social selection and social causation hypotheses concerning the association of low socioeconomic status with the increased prevalence of psychiatric disorders. The use of a quasi-experimental strategy designed for making causal inferences concerning socioeconomic status and psychopathology produces compelling results in favour of the dominance of social selection over social causation. However, the results of structural statistical models show the two processes are complementary and result in a downward spiral in the intergenerational transmission of low socioeconomic status and increased psychopathology.

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Presented in Session 144: Socioeconomic Status and Health: Causation and Selection