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Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Maternal Depressive Symptoms, Transition to Parenthood, Race and Ethnicity, Ethnic Identity


This study investigated whether ethnic identity, financial and educational resources, and social support predicted levels and trajectories of maternal depressive symptoms above and beyond racial and ethnic categories. A sample of Black, Latina, and White working class mothers were interviewed at five time points during the first year of parenthood. Findings indicated that Latina mothers experienced significantly higher levels of depressive symptoms compared to Black mothers at the final time point. There was a significant interaction between race and ethnic identity in predicting symptoms such that Latino mothers saw an increase in the growth rate of symptoms compared to White mothers. Perceived social support from family was associated lower levels of symptoms at Time 5. Additionally, occupational prestige moderated the relationship between race and depressive symptoms. Compared to Latina mothers, Black mothers with high occupational prestige experienced a significant decline in depressive symptoms across the first year of parenthood and this change occurred more rapidly than for Latina mothers. There was also a trend for the interaction between ethnic identity and education predicting maternal depressive symptoms Mothers with high ethnic identity and more education experienced a rapid decline in depressive symptoms across the transition to parenthood compared other mothers. These findings highlight the importance of understanding the unique experiences of people of different racial and ethnic groups.


First Advisor

Maureen Perry-Jenkins