Study of Young Parents Highlights Links Among Stress, Poverty and Ethnicity

Stuart Wolpert, Medical Xpress, November 28, 2013

An avalanche of chronic stress—driven by concerns ranging from parenting to discrimination—disproportionately affects poor mothers and fathers, according to the first results from a comprehensive multi-state study.

“Those who are poor have much higher stress than those who are not. In fact, being poor was associated with more of almost every kind of stress,” said Chris Dunkel Schetter, a professor of psychology in UCLA’s College of Letters and Science and the study’s lead author.

The report found that although people with higher incomes have lower levels of stress overall, stress levels aren’t reduced as much for higher-income African-Americans as they are for higher-income whites. Researchers also learned that Latinos—especially recent immigrants—tend to have lower levels of stress than other groups.

The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, is based on extensive interviews with 2,448 mothers who had given birth within the previous month, and 1,383 partners or fathers. It was conducted in Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Lake County, Illinois; and eastern North Carolina. The study’s first results were published this month in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Families were studied one month after the birth of a child, and again after another six, 12 and 18 months; some families also were interviewed after 24 months. The mothers are African-American, Latino or Hispanic, and white non-Hispanic, and a majority have household incomes near or below the federal poverty level, which in 2013 was $23,550 for a family of four.

“The vast majority of the mothers had very high levels of chronic stress while they were taking care of a new infant and, in some cases, other children as well,” said Dunkel Schetter, co-principal investigator of the Los Angeles site. The results revealed high stress levels for fathers, too.

“The abundance of stress for poor parents is clear, potent and potentially toxic for them and their children,” Dunkel Schetter said. “Both mothers and fathers who were poor and members of an ethnic or racial minority group reported higher financial stress and more stress from major life events like death and divorce than those who were either just poor or just part of a minority group.”

The researchers measured many forms of stress that had never before been assessed together in a single study, including stress triggered by concerns about finances, parenting, partner relationships, family and neighborhood, interpersonal violence, major life events such as the death of a family member, and racism and discrimination. To gauge the biological effects of psychosocial stress, they measured cardiovascular, immune and neuroendocrine factors—including blood pressure, body mass index and salivary cortisol—which, together, offer insight into how people’s body systems age in response to life events and conditions.


Dunkel Schetter said the study did not support a few of the researchers’ original assumptions, including their hypotheses that African-American and Hispanic parents would have higher levels of most kinds of stress, and that stress would be a major reason for the racial and ethnic disparities in health.

“It wasn’t that clear cut,” she said. “There were forms of stress that were higher in whites than in African-Americans and Hispanics, there were forms of stress that were quite low in the African-Americans even when they were poor, and there were forms of stress that varied in Latinos, depending on whether they were U.S.- or foreign-born.”

Among the other noteworthy findings:

  • White women had more stress related to their pregnancies than African-American and Hispanic women.
  • A mother who wasn’t living with the father of her baby was likely to have higher stress levels than one who lived with the baby’s father.
  • African-American fathers were exposed to everyday incidents of racism and discrimination—a highly stressful experience—much more frequently than any other group.
  • Low-income African-Americans had lower financial stress than low-income whites and Hispanics.
  • Low-income Latino mothers and fathers were less likely to feel that life is uncontrollable and overwhelming—and reported less stress from major life events than African-Americans and whites.
  • Recent immigrants from Latin American countries demonstrated less stress than Latin Americans who have lived in the U.S. for longer durations or were born in the U.S.
  • No single ethnic group had higher overall stress levels than the others, but each showed higher stress due to certain stressors.

“Our ideas about poverty and race are often inaccurate,” said Dunkel Schetter. “It’s not as simple as saying, ‘If you’re poor and minority, you will have a lot of stress in your life.’ Racial and ethnic groups bring different attitudes, cultural and behavioral backgrounds, and resources to stressful experiences.”

Peter Schafer, a senior policy associate at the New York Academy of Medicine and a co-author from the Baltimore site, said, “The fact that higher income does not confer the same protective benefit from stress for black and Hispanic women as it does for whites is potentially a key insight into why racial disparities persist. This finding needs further exploration to understand if there are additional stressors for black and Hispanic women as income rises that act to offset the benefits of higher income associated with reduced levels of stress, and how we can mitigate those factors.”


Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Spartacus

    “African-American fathers were exposed to everyday incidents of racism
    and discrimination—a highly stressful experience—much more frequently
    than any other group.”


    • 48224

      Diversity proved deadly for her. A very sad story.

  • c684570

    So stop coming to this country.

  • JohnEngelman

    There is no mention of the stress whites suffer if they have to interact with large numbers of blacks on a daily basic. I am confident that whites who teach in black public schools suffer much more stress than whites who teach in white schools.

    • John R

      Hey, maybe the three people who voted you down will volunteer to teach in a predominately African American public school? Ya think?

      • JohnEngelman

        More probably they vote me down habitually because of my high regard for Jews and Orientals. I would love to teach a classroom full of those.

        • John R

          Me, too. I don’t really have a high regard for Jews, I just recognize that this insanity of political correctness is not a “Jewish plot.” Heck, the Muslims hate Jews, too. And most blacks also hate them. The “Jewish black alliance” is over. It is the White Majority Guilt-ridden multiculturalist that is the problem. As to Orientals, I don’t have a real problem with them, either. I just want this country to remain White, that’s all.

          • JohnEngelman

            It is kind of late in the day for the United States to “remain white.” The white population is 75 percent, and declining. Negroes have been here since the 1619. They were treated like indentured servants. Free Negroes have been here since they served their indentured service.

            Hispanics have been here ever since we defeated Mexico, and annexed half of Mexico.

            American Indians were here first.

            Diversity is not our strength. It is something we have to manage. The era of white male supremacy will never return.

          • pcmustgo

            Europe should be preserved for us then.

          • Garrett Brown

            The white population is 63%.

          • 5Sardonicus

            Yes, Africans have been here since the founding of the country, but why import more through misguided immigration policies? I might add that many whites were indentured servants as well: Moreover, early northern factory conditions (child labor and unsafe working environments) were, in many cases, only marginally better than slavery.

            Mexicans were in areas in the Southwest, before Americans, but Native Americans were there before the Mexicans, and the white Spanish colonialists controlled the area before Mexico. The Southwest was turned into a productive, prosperous, developed area by American whites. This is why “Hispanics” (which includes more than Mexicans) want to move there.

            As for the American Indians, there was no United States before the arrival of European colonists. There were different areas dominated by different warring indigenous tribes, but no unified political/civic entity.

          • Laika

            “American Indians were here first.”

            No, they weren’t.

            Daily Telegraph: “Stone-age Europeans ‘were the first to set foot on North America'”
            “Stone-age Europeans were the first to set foot on North America, beating American Indians by some 10,000 years, new archaeological evidence suggests.”//www [] telegraph [] co[] uk/new…

            Daily Mail:”Across six locations on the U.S. east coast, several dozen stone tools have been found.After close analysis it was discovered that they were between 19,000 and 26,000 years old and were a European-style of tool.

            The discovery suggests that the owners of the tools arrived 10,000 years before the ancestors of the American Indians set foot in the New World, reported The Independent.”

            //www [] dailymail [] co [] uk/sci…

          • “The era of white male supremacy will never return.”

            I am male and mostly white, so how much would you like to bet?

          • JohnEngelman

            I hope we will end affirmative action. Nevertheless, Orientals and Jews will continue to dominate fields requiring superior intelligence.

          • And Scots. That’s one “t” and not two.

          • pcmustgo

            I’m half jewish and on here because of all the anti-white venom I experienced in life.

          • 5Sardonicus

            I have a problem with “orientals” when they become so numerous that they begin to demand group rights and start ethnic politics. I think the recent Jimmy Kimmel incident demonstrates this trend:

        • Martel

          That sounds creepy

        • Anon

          Jews are not exactly in the closet about their evil deeds.

          • JohnEngelman

            What evil deeds?

    • pcmustgo

      Yes, I read that bit about black fathers experiencing daily incidents of racism- I’m white and female and I experience near-daily racial incidents. Unavoidable in NYC. It’s caused me a lot of personal pain, trauma and stress.

      • DiversityIsDeath

        As a white woman working in NYC I relate to all you said. I too experience dozens of anti-white micro-aggressions from blacks/browns daily, and sometimes overt racial incidents. I live in constant state of hyper-vigilance around them. As the rare white woman riding on a crowded subway or bus, rubbing up against them is always a disgusting, demoralizing, humiliating, and potentially dangerous situation. Only when I get home do I feel safe from them.

        • I used to wonder if I was just hyper-sensitive, then I found that at AmRen there are other ill-socialized, paranoid people just like me!!!

          At the Walgren’s pharmacy the 1 black pharmacist was going on and on giving an elderly black lady instructions on how to drive somewhere. She wasn’t buying anything from the pharmacy, she wasn’t given just an address and store name but a whole set of directions and then directions by alternate routes.

          I had a prescription to pick up & had my little one w/ me (4 yo) who was already wating 20min & it was his lunch time. So I asked “could you fill my prescription?”. He got so upset that he said “You don’t tell me what to do” and then refused to wait on me. The other phamacist there (possibly the head) rolled her eyes and then filled my prescription.

          I guess he was an AA hire and thus could do as he pleased. I get little snubs like this periodically but we whites are pretty much used to it I guess.

    • Anon

      You know those little stress bulbs they used to sell back in the 90’s?

      They really do work. I experience significantly reduced levels of stress, interacting with negros while my hand is squeezing the butt of my concealed carry revolver. It has a nice, squishy rubbery no slip covering I find quite soothing.

  • Andy

    A mother who wasn’t living with the father of her baby was likely to have higher stress levels than one who lived with the baby’s father.
    Good thing they did this study! Who’da thunk?

  • Caucasoid88

    They should’ve incorporated diet into the equation.

    You get more stressed if you eat McDonald’s and Popeye’s every day, too, as I’m sure one racial group chows on the processed food a bit more than others.

    • NordicHeritage

      In this economy who can afford to eat organic? GMO food is a way of life here and I don’t see that changing anytime soon sadly.

      • Who Me?

        Grow some of your own food. Start small. Just put some dirt in a window box, throw some carrot and radish seeds in, water it and set it in the sunlight. Once you get started, you can gradually expand the list of what you grow yourself. You will never cut out the grocery store entirely but you can make a little dent in the food bill without much effort.
        Here’s a hint: growing tomatoes yourself is a lot like making bread yourself or roasting a turkey at home –people try to make it sound hard, but it’s amazingly simple when you tune them out and just DO IT–put the little plant in the soil and watch it grow! If you have small children they will learn so much from it too, just from watching.

        • ms_anthro

          Yep. And get heirloom seeds so that you only have to buy them once. Grow tomatoes, save some seeds, replant, rinse, repeat. Other easy-to-grow plants are squashes (summer and winter), green beans, cucumbers, and various herbs. A sunny windowsill will do.

          • My hybridized pepper plants (bell-jalapeno) sprout true from one year to the next. I’m running on fourth-generation seeds. Not all hybrids do funny things.

          • ms_anthro

            That’s an interesting hybrid, Mr. Scott. What do they look like? Are they very spicy?

            But I was referring more to the seedless varieties one can buy in gardening stores, or the plants that are modified not to reproduce on their own. If you buy the right seeds, you should only have to buy them once. It’s easy enough to start a collection of varietals after a few seasons.

          • The peppers are slightly elongated, and a little spicy. They’re perfect for baking after being stuffed with grated cheese and steamed rice. Summers, the peppers are green, and in cooler months, they’re red. The shape and taste never changes, and they’re one thing we won’t do without. We even dry out the stems and seeds and grind those as a spice.

            Perhaps in the case of peppers “regression to the mean” produces a medium-sized, slightly spicy product.

  • Spartacus

    That might be one of the smartest posts I’ve read in weeks.

  • emiledurk16

    Right. Having to go to the ATM to withdraw from the one’s recharged EBT card, along with calculating the trade in value of this month’s food stamps would stress anyone out./ sarc

    • John R

      Excuse me, but, I kind of think you were being sarcastic. LMAO!

      • emiledurk16

        In the immortal words of Ed McMahon: “You are correct, sir.”

  • Who Me?

    Young white parents have to worry about losing their job(s), paying for insurance, (especially the wonderful new “Affordable” Healthcare)raising the child properly and safely, saving for the child’s college education, and their own retirement, etc. Because white people DO plan ahead.
    A young parent of color has no job to worry about, subsidized housing, food from the EBT, baby formula from WIC, and a guaranteed monthly monetary allowance from the government. She can look forward to free daycare, free preschool and if by some chance the kid manages to stay in school long enough to get his high school diploma, he’s got an AA slot prepaid into college. What the hell has she got to worry about?

    Oh, and #3: “African-American fathers were exposed to everyday incidents of racism and discrimination—a highly stressful experience—much more frequently than any other group.”

    That was a joke, right?

    • Alexandra1973

      I guess it IS a tad stressful when people don’t like the content of your character….

      Maybe they’d be less stressed in Africa…?

    • John R

      Very fine analysis, “who me”. I think YOUR study was a lot more relevant than the one in this article. Hey, do you think that the state will give you a grant for your work? Hmmm, probably not, just a thought….

      • Who Me?

        Thanks, but you’re right, I don’t get any gibsmedats… I’m the wrong color for them, being white.

    • Garrett Brown

      The 20% of black men that actually are fathers? Haha

  • odious liberal

    Perhaps they would have lower stress levels if they didn’t obsess about race. Better yet stay in your own country and live longer.

  • Stress during pregnancy is a major cause of premature births, and that in turn is a cause of asthma and allergies, because the baby really needs what would be the last three weeks of gestation to get the mother’s immune system.

  • John R

    This study seems to have so many qualifiers that it ends up really saying nothing! Geeze, if only I could get a job doing that-get paid to do research and just not really say anything. That would reduce my stress level, I am sure. Hey, how about a study of the stress levels of gov’t researchers after they are told that they must come up with relevant conclusions for their studies? One part of this I did find interesting, though; they said:

    “African-American fathers were exposed to everyday incidents of racism and discrimination—a highly stressful experience—much more frequently than any other group.”
    Really? According to whom? The African American fathers? And, by the way, any findings of the stress levels of Whites who live in neighborhoods where there are a great many African Americans? THAT would be an interesting study, but I am sure one that will never be done.

    • ms_anthro

      In a mostly non-White neighborhood, just getting through daily life in one piece is stressful. No, they will never do that study.

  • John R

    And White parents worry about raising their child right, what school he/she will go to, keeping the child out of trouble, and making their child healthy and happy. Blacks just drop ’em out two or three at a time, and don’t think anything about it. Yeah, no wonder they have less stress. And psychopaths are not burdened by conscious.

  • Mergatroyd

    A lot of stress is caused by poor decisions such as having children one cannot feed, clothe or educate. Stress is also caused when low IQ blacks and browns try to live in high tech White-created societies where they fail repeatedly and miserably. Blacks belong in cultures which were built by them and for them in Africa and browns, in Mexico and Central America. End of problem.

  • pcmustgo

    Seems the Latinos are overall a happy folk. Many studies show that. Happy go lucky. Their countreis score high on “happiness” scales. Just their demeanor. As far as blacks and latinos being less stressed while pregnant, they seem to not take child-bearing very seriously, it’s just another day for them.

    • “It’s just another day for them.”

      Correct: just another day of smoking, drinking, junk food and drug use.

      • ThomasER916

        All at my expense.

        • You noticed as well?

          • ThomasER916

            Yes. That’s why this is genocide. We’re slaves to a low-IQ race who will replace us. That’s what makes this so frustrating.

    • QuinnTheEskimo9

      Why not be happy? As long as the EBT keeps working and the cerveza keeps flowing Latinos are happy. They believe in quantity over quality, the more the better, whether it’s beer, drugs, junk food, old cars, welfare and free medical. They start popping ’em out at 14 and by 25 look like they’re 60 years old.

  • Garrett Brown

    And whether they can feed them, if they can raise them the way they want and be proud of the parent they were, etc.

  • Anon

    There is no such thing as stress.

    Back in the old days when science had to pass legitimate peer review, stress was designed as something that taxed an organisms survival. If it was 20 degrees outside. And I made you stand out there for an hour without wearing a coat, you were under “stress”. I could say, measure your basophil count and note that it was elevated. A clearly measurable immune reaction reasonably attributable to survival pressure put on an organism.

    Then came the theory (one that almost completely fails) that things that go on in the mind can cause the same sort of “stress” along with the (completely unproven) theory, that “stress” was bad for you.

    Today, the word stress is pretty much defined as anything a liberal might find offensive. For example, not using gender neutral terms when around a transvestite….stress. Not getting more than four hours sleep a night because you have to work so much because most of your money is stolen to buy crack for inner city negros….not recognized as stress, nor studied, let alone anything said or done about it.

    The entire study here and its ilk are complete jokes without anything legitimate to say about anything. It amounts to whining about phony problems while ignoring real problems.

    • DiversityIsDeath

      Critically thinkers who are suspicious of left-wing trickery (like us here at Amren, heee) understand by now the real intention of these “scientific studies”. We know that this “comprehensive multi-state study” is just an impressive sounding term designed to convince us all the the thing is authentic and should be taken seriously. We know that the researchers (and their funders) knew what they were going to say beforehand and just tailored their findings to make it fit.

  • Garrett Brown

    That’s a HUGE difference from the 75% you’re claiming. I hope you aren’t going around and actually telling people that. Maybe in 1990 that was true, not now.

  • emiledurk16

    Stress is part of life. Anything that’s worthwhile will not come easy unless accompanied by stress. Today’s perverted world wants to push the untruthful yet appealing (to the naïve) thought that beneficial results can be achieved by redistribution and the turning over of white accomplishments to non whites out of some sick sense of “social justice”.
    How far lower can these degenerate Marxists lower the bar?
    Put a black in charge and “voilà” you’ve righted past alleged wrongs.
    Doesn’t matter if that person has the capability or experience for the position. Just doing so is enough. Baloney!
    As God as my judge this will not work for long. As Will Durant said the best will always rise and take control, and this day, I suspect, is imminent.
    Homeland security buffoon Napolitano knows this and is the reason for her agency “buying up” 80 billion rounds of ammo.
    Clinton, Obama, Ayers et all…….You cannot change human nature, and soon your ilk will realize this.

    • emiledurk16

      Maybe 80 million rounds….the rest stands.

  • hastings88

    Lack of stress = lack of conscientiousness

  • willbest

    I guess this is all relative because 400 years ago when a lower class woman got pregnant she was probably so grateful she survived child birth that she didn’t let the small things like having to process most of the raw materials herself because there was no Wal-Mart, not having a climate controlled environment to protect the child in, no antibiotics etc. in addition to where her next meal was coming from if the crop failed.

    I just want to smack 90% of the people out there that are on antidepressants.

    • IstvanIN

      There are people who suffer from depression because that is how there brains are wired, regardless of how good or bad their lives are. Should they be smacked, or perhaps encouraged to commit suicide?

      • willbest

        Yes just like I am sure all those obese people are that way because they are just wired that way, and I should be forced to pay for their obesity created diabetes, thyroid, and liver complications.

        But back to your antidepressant white knighting. Notice I said only 9 in 10 people on antidepressants deserve to be smacked. And here is why

        Antidepressants didn’t hit the seen until the mid 1950’s so somehow everybody managed to cope with sadness for 10k+ years without needing a pharmacological solution

        As to your suicide thoughts, the science on antidepressants and suicide are complicated, but it is of note that Suicide rates haven’t exactly plummeted in the last 60 years although they are down slightly.

        The number of people on antidepressant as increased a staggering 400% in the last 20 years.

        Nearly 1/4th of women in their 40s and 50s are on antidepressants.

        Sadness also appears to predominately affect white people. As 14% of non-hispanic whites are on antidepressants, but only 4% of blacks, and 3% of hispanics.

        Then again I suppose life has been so good the last 50-60 years from a national perspective that people are genuinely no longer able to cope when there is a little rain on their sunny day.

        • Andy

          Although living standards have improved, I do not think our current situation is more hopeful than the situation of those who settled the country. Our society is set up in a way that is unnatural to the human condition. Most women thrive as mothers without the responsibility of supporting the family financially. Most men thrive with a supportive woman they can depend on. Both men and women do better when they have a partner and need not worry about losing them. Children’s mental health is heavily dependent on being certain of their parents’ constancy. With families in their current state, with religion and tradition being trampled on, with all sense of our future as a people lost, I am not surprised that we are drugging ourselves out of our minds.

          I will be forthcoming: I have taken antidepressants for several years. Mental illness seems to run on both sides of my family. With them I function well; without them I am irrationally hopeless and panicky and suffer mild hallucinations. I would be happy if I could simply ditch them, but I can’t afford to spend months or years unstable at this point in my life.

        • IstvanIN

          Sadness and depression are two different things. You are very lucky to not have had a clinically depressed loved one.

          • willbest

            First, luck wouldn’t have anything to do with it since its not that common. Second, what makes you think I haven’t? She killed herself a decade ago. I am more than capable of separating anecdote from data though. And I can tell you that if we go pull a random script for antidepressants we are far more likely to find a woman using to escape the realities of menopause or escape the stress of college than we are somebody that is genuinely clinically depressed.

          • Aditya Vivek Barot

            Agreed. But is that morally wrong? We use other items to escape harsh reality. What’s the big deal about a little pill?

          • willbest

            Yes it is morally wrong. A little pill is the escape of choice for white mothers, that is why I singled it out. Other forms of escaping harsh realities are also morally wrong.