Do Human and Social Capital Protect Young African American Mothers from Depression Associated with Ethnic Discrimination and Violence Exposure?

Amy Lewin, Stephanie J. Mitchell, Andrew Rasmussen, Kathy Sanders-Phillips, Jill G Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Young minority mothers are particularly vulnerable to depression associated with community-level or contextual stressors such as violence exposure and ethnic discrimination. This study explores whether human and social capital act as buffers of the associations between such stressors and maternal depression. Among a sample of 230 urban, African American mothers, who were teenagers when their preschool-age children were born, both being a victim of violence and experiencing ethnic discrimination predicted increased depressive symptoms, and higher educational attainment predicted fewer symptoms. Ethnic identity moderated the association between witnessed violence and maternal depression, and community cohesion moderated the association between ethnic discrimination and depression. Social support protected against depressive symptoms associated with witnessed violence but seemingly exacerbated depression associated with victimization. The specific roles that forms of human and social capital play in moderating the effects of contextual stressors suggest the need for nuanced programmatic efforts to reduce maternal depression among young African American mothers living in violence-prone, urban neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-310
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Black Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes



  • depression
  • discrimination
  • ethnic identity
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Anthropology

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