Relation of female gender and low socioeconomic status to internalizing symptoms among adolescents: A case of double jeopardy?

Tamar Mendelson, Laura D. Kubzansky, Geetanjali D. Datta, Stephen L. Buka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Characteristics associated with disadvantaged social position, such as low socioeconomic status (SES) and female gender, may play a significant role in the development of internalizing symptoms among adolescents. Indeed, theories of "double jeopardy" suggest that these disadvantaged status characteristics interact to produce particularly harmful mental health outcomes. We tested the hypothesis that lower SES places adolescent females at greater risk for internalizing symptoms than males. We used data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods collected from a 15-year-old adolescent cohort (n = 640) at baseline and at two-year follow-up. Female gender predicted internalizing symptoms cross-sectionally and prospectively, whereas household income and caretaker education generally were not associated with internalizing symptoms. Findings overall did not indicate interactive effects between gender and SES indicators. However, subgroups of females at the lowest levels of caretaker education and household income displayed increased risk for specific outcomes, including higher internalizing symptom levels at follow-up and maintenance of severe symptom levels from baseline to follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1284-1296
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume66
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Double jeopardy
  • Gender
  • Internalizing
  • Mental health
  • Socioeconomic status (SES)
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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