Job loss and major depression among Mexican Americans

Ralph Catalano, Ethel Aldrete, William Vega, Bohdan Kolody, Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objective. Mexican Americans report significantly lower rates of major depression than do other Americans. This difference has been attributed to several possible mechanisms, including a cultural immunity to acute stressors. The purpose of this research is to test the hypothesis that Mexican Americans are reactive to one acute stressor, job loss, that is a demonstratec risk factor for depression in samples of the U.S. population. Methods. The test is based on a representative sample of 3,012 Mexican Americans living in Fresno County, California. Results. Job loss is a risk factor for major depression among Mexican Americans in our sample. Conclusions. The inference from previous research that Mexican Americans were less reactive to acute stressors than were others in the community is probably incorrect. The relatively low rate of depression among Mexican Americans may be explained by cultural factors that protect against the chronic strains rather than acute stressors. Any public policies or clinical practices that assume Mexican Americans can withstand acute stressors better than other persons can should be reviewed in light of our findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-487
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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