Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Stressed and depressed be the low-class lass

In response to GSS data showing a positive correlation between marriage and mental health, commenter Marlborough County writes:
To use Charles Murray's parlance people in Belmont get married, people in Fishtown do not. Look at the CLASS variable. Big difference. Isn't marriage just a proxy for class here?
That's quite reasonable, and he's correct about the link between social class and marriage and thus also between social class and mental health. To the contrary, mo' money does not appear to lead to mo' problems, at least not emotional ones.

But the marriage gap exists independently of social class. The percentages of non-Hispanic white women, by marital status and social class, who report having experienced poor mental health--defined as "stress, depression, and problems with emotions"--in the month prior to being surveyed. All responses are from 2002 onward (N = 3,209):

Rules, structure, and convention benefit those at the bottom of society most. The expansion of bohemian and bacchanalian mores from cosmopolitan elites into the wider popular culture has been devastating for those at the bottom. This, of course, fits perfectly within Murray's framework in Coming Apart.

GSS variables used: MNTLHLTH(0), SEX(2), RACECEN1(1), HISPANIC(1), MARITAL(1)(3,5), CLASS


Issac said...

It would be interesting to see these overlaid with race. Is the growing minority population driving those lower class numbers or was the white lower class really hit that hard by bohemian cultural devolution?

Audacious Epigone said...

Well this is for non-Hispanic whites only. The total population numbers look less stratified by class bc blacks show strong mental health by this measure.

bradford said...

Isn't the big takeaway that about half of non Hispanic white women are experiencing poor mental health? Seems high doesn't it? One in two.

Audacious Epigone said...


It's self-reported poor mental health, defined as "stress, depression, and problems with emotions" so the 'rates' in this context are much higher than clinically diagnosed rates are. This is better for understanding relative differences than getting an overall picture, I think.

dc.sunsets said...

Smart people are capable of figuring out how to live a happy life just by analytical effort alone. [That few do so is beside my point.]

Dull people are like a submarine without a periscope. Either they have strong outside forces that channel them into relatively successful life approaches or they run into one obstacle after another. To the stupid, life can be characterized by a strip mall where there are two buildings: One is a store selling useless but flashy junk, the other is a payday loan franchise where the vig is >100%.

I don't know which is more pitiable, a stupid person crushed by impulsive-mindedness & debt or a smart person rationalizing living the same life.

JayMan said...

This is another example of the Fifth Law in action, which I should state here:

All human phenotypic relationships are genetically confounded or mediated.

The Five Laws of Behavioral Genetics

Even in lower classes, marriage selects for people who are less impulsive and more emotionally stable. They are not made better because of the marriage, they were better to begin with.

Audacious Epigone said...


Dull people are like a submarine without a periscope. Either they have strong outside forces that channel them into relatively successful life approaches or they run into one obstacle after another.

This is a fatal flaw in standard libertarianism.


But they aren't perfectly so. Smoking rates, secularism increasing simultaneously with religiosity's positive correlation with fertility, etc.

George said...

I wonder what happens when you separate 'divorced' from 'never-been-married'?

DissidentRight said...

What dc.sunsets said.

And since all the power rests in the hands of the elites, with no watchman looking over their shoulder (all the watchmen are, one way or another, in their pay), the question of stable society is pretty much rooted in whether or not the elites willingly choose to do the right thing.

Contrast Trump to Hillary.

Audacious Epigone said...

More from Jayman here.


"Never married" have slightly worse mental health than divorced do. Better to loved and lost than never loved at all!


A lot of power does, but not all. The virtual world has been a great leveler, for better or worse. I suspect we'll see the relative power of elites continue to wane in the coming decades, but of course I might be off the mark.

Anonymous said...

...so upper class women who are not married have lower rates of mental illness than middle class, working class, and lower class women who are married.

...so it appears to be more important to have high status, rich parents, and be educated and have a high IQ than it is to have a husband. Obviously women in my social circle want all of the above, but 4 out of 5 ain't bad.

George said...

Interesting. I would expect the opposite for men. Makes sense for women.

Audacious Epigone said...


Yes, it is always recommended that people choose the wealthiest, most intelligent, most well-adjusted parents they are able to!