We theorize that the reported association between economic indicators and the incidence of civil commitment for mental illness may result, at least in part, from reduced tolerance in the community for impaired behavior among minorities. Earlier work suggests that economically induced intolerance will be focused primarily on minority males. Based on this literature, we hypothesize that the median level of functioning among African-American males subjected to civil commitment will vary positively with earlier changes in the unemployment rate. The test applies Box-Jenkins methods to 156 months (August 1985-July 1998) of data from California. Consistent with theory, results support the hypothesis.
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