Racial/ethnic disparities in depression: Investigating how sources of support and types of integration matter

Tse Chuan Yang, Kiwoong Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although social support and social integration are key predictors of depression and exhibit racial/ethnic patterns in the US, previous research has not examined how they shape racial/ethnic disparities in depression. Applying hybrid models to data from the Americans' Changing Lives study from 1986 to 2002, this study analyzes how sources of social support (spouse and friend/relative) and types of social integration (informal/formal) explain black-white and Hispanic-white disparities in depression. We find that strong social support and high social integration are negatively associated with depression and that the patterns of social support and integration vary by race/ethnicity. The results of hybrid models show that social support from one's spouse and friend/relative account for over 25 percent of the black-white disparity, whereas formal social integration including religious groups widens the black-white differential by roughly 10 percent. However, Hispanic-white disparities in depression are mostly a result of the difference in socioeconomic status. The change in spousal support is the most powerful predictor for the change in depression across race/ethnicity groups. Our findings suggest that the racial/ethnic differences in sources of social support and types of social integration play important roles in shaping racial/ethnic disparities in depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-71
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Science Research
StatePublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Americans' Changing Lives
  • Depression
  • Hybrid modeling
  • Social integration
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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