Racial Discrimination in Late Adolescence and Mental Health Outcomes Among Participants in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics

J Adolesc Health. 2023 Aug;73(2):302-309. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2023.02.029. Epub 2023 May 3.


Purpose: To assess whether racial discrimination experienced at ages 18-21 years is associated with psychological distress and well-being, and investigate potential moderators of this relationship.

Methods: We used panel data collected from 2005 to 2017 from 661 participants in the Transition into Adulthood Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. The Everyday Discrimination Scale measured racial discrimination. The Kessler six and Mental Health Continuum Short Form assessed psychological distress and well-being, respectively. Generalized linear mixed modeling was used to model outcomes and test potential moderating variables.

Results: Approximately 25% of participants experienced high levels of racial discrimination. In analyses of panel data, these participants had significantly worse psychological distress (odds ratio = 6.04, 95% confidence interval: 3.41, 8.67) and lower levels of emotional well-being (odds ratio = 4.61, 95% confidence interval: 1.87, 7.36) compared to those who did not. Race and ethnicity moderated the relationship.

Discussion: Exposure to racial discrimination in late adolescence was associated with worse mental health outcomes. This study has important implications for interventions addressing the need for mental health support that is critical for adolescents who experience racial discrimination.

Keywords: Mental health; Racial discrimination; Racism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ethnicity
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Mental Health
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Racism* / psychology