Do We Know Where We Stand? Neighborhood Relative Income, Subjective Social Status, and Health

Amanda L. Roy, Erin B. Godfrey, Jason R D Rarick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Bridging research on relative income and subjective social status (SSS), this study examines how neighborhood relative income is related to ones' SSS, and in turn, physical and mental health. Using a survey sample of 1807 U.S. adults, we find that neighborhood median income significantly moderates the relationship between household income and self-reported physical and mental health. Low-income individuals living in high-income neighborhoods (i.e., relative disadvantage) report better physical and mental health than low-income individuals living in low-income neighborhoods. In addition, high-income individuals living in low-income neighborhoods (i.e., relative advantage) report higher SSS (relative to neighbors), whereas low-income individuals living in high-income neighborhoods (i.e., relative disadvantage) also report higher SSS. We draw from social comparison theory to interpret these results positing that downward comparisons may serve an evaluative function while upward comparisons may result in affiliation with better-off others. Finally, we demonstrate that SSS explains the relationship between neighborhood relative income and health outcomes, providing empirical support for the underlying influence of perceived social position.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-458
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

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Health Status
social status
income
low income
health
mental health
theory comparison
Mental Health
social position
household income

Keywords

  • Health
  • Neighborhood
  • Relative income
  • Social comparisons
  • Subjective social status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Applied Psychology
  • Health(social science)

Cite this

Do We Know Where We Stand? Neighborhood Relative Income, Subjective Social Status, and Health. / Roy, Amanda L.; Godfrey, Erin B.; Rarick, Jason R D.

In: American Journal of Community Psychology, 01.06.2016, p. 448-458.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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