African Americans and Caribbean Blacks: Perceived neighborhood disadvantage and depression

J Community Psychol. 2019 Mar;47(2):227-237. doi: 10.1002/jcop.22117. Epub 2018 Aug 2.


The purpose of this study was to advance a theoretical understanding of the effects of impoverished neighborhoods on mental health and to inform policy measures encouraging residents to leave such neighborhoods. To do this, we investigated whether individuals' perceived neighborhood disadvantage served as a risk factor for clinical depression in a nationally representative sample of African Americans and Caribbean Blacks. We performed logistic regression analysis on stratified socioeconomic status (SES) subsamples from the National Survey of American Life sample of 5,019 African Americans and Caribbean Blacks. The association between perceived neighborhood social disorder and past-year depression was statistically significant for low-SES individuals (at or below the federal poverty line; odds ratio [OR] = 1.73, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.07, 2.81], p = 0.026) and at the boundary of significance for middle-SES individuals (between 100% and 300% of the poverty line; OR = 1.74, 95% CI [1.00, 3.02], p = 0.052), but not for high-SES individuals (at or above 300% of the poverty line). Results suggest, at least for low- and middle-income African Americans, perceived neighborhood social disorder is a risk factor for depression. U.S. housing policies aimed at neighborhood improvement and poverty de-concentration may benefit the mental health of low-income African Americans and Caribbean Blacks.

Keywords: Americans; Caribbean Blacks; Psychiatric Epidemiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black People / ethnology*
  • Black or African American / ethnology
  • Caribbean Region / ethnology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Poverty / ethnology
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Social Perception
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • United States / ethnology
  • Vulnerable Populations / ethnology*