Maternal Depression and Parenting as Moderators and Mediators of Links from Neighborhood Disadvantage to Offspring Depression

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Clinical Psychology


Department of Psychology


Advisor: Jackson Goodnight


Depression occurs at striking rates among youth populations (Costello, Erkanli, & Angold, 2006). Increases in adolescent suicide rates and antidepressant prescriptions have led to public perceptions of an offspring depression "epidemic" (Costello et al., 2006). Existing research demonstrates that neighborhood disadvantage (ND; Hill & Maimon, 2013), maternal depression (Shih & Brennan, 2004), and deficits in parenting are independently linked to elevated levels of depression in children (Radziszewska, Richardson, Dent, & Flay, 1966). However, our understanding of the interdependency among these risk factors is incomplete. The current study assessed quality of parenting according to four major domains: Autonomy, Disharmony, Intimacy, and Joint Activities (Hart, Atkins, & Ford, 1999). Using PROCESS (Hayes, 2013), I examined data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth Child and Young Adult cohort (CNLSY) to determine: (1) if maternal depression and parenting factors moderate the relationship between ND and offspring depression; and, (2) if maternal depression and parenting factors mediate the relationship between ND and offspring depression. The results of the moderation analyses did not find that maternal depression and parenting deficits moderate the relationship between ND and offspring depression, although a significant negative main effect was found for parental intimacy. The results for mediation analyses provided evidence for serial mediation via maternal depression and parental intimacy, but not for pathways involving other parenting dimensions. This finding suggests that exposure to adverse neighborhood conditions may contribute to risk for offspring depression by elevating risk for maternal depression, which may diminish a mother's ability to foster a close, affectionate relationship with her child.The findings of this study contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of children at risk of developing depression and suggest possible avenues for intervention. Limitations of the current study as well as implications for neighborhood- and individual- level interventions are discussed.


Clinical Psychology, Maternal Depression, Parenting, Parenting Deficits, Neighborhood Disadvantage, Offspring Depression

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