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CSDE Seminar Series

Population Research Discovery Seminars

Do Racial Differences in Coping Resources Explain the Black-White Paradox in Mental Health? A Test of Multiple Mechanisms

Patricia Louie, PhD, Assistant Professor, UW Department of Sociology


Moderated by:

Amelia Gavin, PhD, Associate Professor, UW School of Social Work


Register for Zoom Seminar HERE

12:30-1:30 PM PT

A central paradox in the mental health literature is the tendency for Black Americans to report similar or better mental health than White Americans, despite greater exposure to social and economic stressors. However, if Black Americans have higher levels of certain coping resources than White Americans, this may explain this finding. Using data from the Nashville Stress and Health Study, we examine whether Black Americans have higher levels of self-esteem, social support, religious attendance, and divine control than White Americans, and whether these resources in turn explain the Black-White paradox in mental health. We then compare the extent to which each resource contributes to the Black-White patterning of depressive symptoms/mental disorder using causal mediation techniques. Findings indicate that Black Americans have higher levels of self-esteem, family social support, and religiosity than White Americans. Furthermore, self-esteem has the largest effect in explaining Black-White differences in depressive symptoms, while divine control has the largest effect in explaining differences in disorder.

Patricia Louie is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington. Her research focusesĀ on the role that social factors play in driving racial inequalities in health. Patricia’s current projects examine the role of stress and coping resources in explaining Black-White differences in mental health, how different specifications of race (such as disaggregated multiracial-status or skin tone) shape how we understand race-health relationships, and how racial disparities in health vary across cross-national contexts.