Wilbur, Tabitha G (2020). Stressed but not Depressed: A Longitudinal Analysis of First-Generation College Students, Stress, and Depressive Symptoms. Social Forces.
vol. 100 (1) pp. 56-85
Using The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), I examine stress exposure and depressive symptoms among first and continuing-generation college students before and during college. I find that first-generation college students experience more stressors during both adolescence and college attendance and higher levels of depressive symptoms during adolescence as compared to continuing-generation students. During college, however, first-generation students’ level of depressive symptoms is no different from their continuing-generation peers even before adjusting for stress exposure and adolescent depressive symptoms. The gap in symptoms closes because first-generation college students’ mental health improves while attending college, as they have significantly fewer depressive symptoms than they did during adolescence. Continuing-generation students, on the other hand, did not display a significant difference in their depressive symptoms between adolescence and college attendance. Possible explanations for these findings are discussed.
Wilbur, Tabitha G