The nature of socioeconomic status among young adults, and its effect on health : a multi-group SEM analysis by gender and race/ethnicity
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This dissertation focuses on results of multi-group SEM models estimated using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) in order to determine appropriate measurement and structural models for the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and health among six young adult U.S. social groups. Examining the links between SES and health during young adulthood is important because while there is a strong, documented link between lower SES and poorer health (Adler & Snibbe, 2003), young adults can exercise a considerable amount of agency with regard to their own SES and health. Young adults make critical decisions about pursuing post-secondary education, entering the workforce, and practicing healthy behaviors--activities which differ in their immediate and long-term economic and health payoff (Mirowsky & Ross, 2003; Elder, 1985; 1994). Yet, the nature of SES and its links with health for members of various gender and racial/ethnic groups is not entirely clear. Literature suggests that occupation, education, and income are neither defined nor linked among women in the same ways that they are for men (APA, 2007). Self-assessment of health is also thought to differ by gender and ethnicity (Krause & Jay, 1994). Moreover, limited research has addressed the unique mediating pathways by which aspects of SES affect health for specific social groups (Matthews, Gallo, & Taylor, 2010). In this work, I estimate measurement models for several aspects of SES among African American, Latina, and White men and women, then link aspects of SES with each other and with health using structural equation modeling. I also examine the unique mediating pathways by which aspects of SES are linked with health for these groups.