Ethnic density and depressive symptoms among African Americans: Threshold and differential effects across social and demographic subgroups

Laia Bécares*, James Nazroo, James Jackson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives. We examined the association between Black ethnic density and depressive symptoms among African Americans. We sought to ascertain whether a threshold exists in the association between Black ethnic density and an important mental health outcome, and to identify differential effects of this association across social, economic, and demographic subpopulations.

Methods. We analyzed the African American sample (n = 3570) from the National Survey of American Life, which we geocoded to the 2000 US Census. We determined the threshold with a multivariable regression spline model. We examined differential effects of ethnic density with random-effects multilevel linear regressions stratified by sociodemographic characteristics.

Results. The protective association between Black ethnic density and depressive symptoms changed direction, becoming a detrimental effect, when ethnic density reached 85%. Black ethnic density was protective for lower socioeconomic positions and detrimental for the better-off categories. The masking effects of area deprivation were stronger in the highest levels of Black ethnic density.

Conclusions. Addressing racism, racial discrimination, economic deprivation, and poor services-the main drivers differentiating ethnic density from residential segregation-will help to ensure that the racial/ethnic composition of a neighborhood is not a risk factor for poor mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2334-2341
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Volume104
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014

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