Privileged but pressured? A study of affluent youth

Child Dev. Sep-Oct 2002;73(5):1593-610. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00492.


The purpose of this study was to build on preliminary findings of unusually high internalizing symptoms and substance use among suburban high school students. The sample consisted of 302 sixth- and seventh-grade students in an affluent, suburban community. Findings corroborated expectations regarding several domains of vulnerability, showing (1) high rates of clinically significant depressive symptoms among older girls, (2) significant links between various internalizing symptoms and substance use among both boys and girls, and (3) peers' approval of substance use among older boys. In exploring potential causes of distress in this suburban sample, associations were found for achievement pressures (particularly excessive perfectionistic strivings), and isolation from parents (particularly low perceived closeness to mothers). Findings of this study are discussed in terms of widespread stereotypes about affluent families, as well as implications for future research and preventive interventions for a subgroup of youth typically viewed as being at "low risk."

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Behavior*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stereotyping
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*