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The Effects of Marital Conflict and Marital Disruption on Depressive Affect: A Comparison Between Women In and Out of Poverty


  • *Direct correspondence to Ruth X. Liu, Department of Sociology, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Dr., San Diego, CA 92182-4423 〈〉. We thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. The first-named author will share data and coding information with those wishing to replicate the study.


Objectives. We examine the independent and interactive effects of marital conflict and marital disruption on women's depressive affect and how these effects vary by family's poverty status.

Methods. We use the OLS regression and data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to test the hypothesized relationships.

Results. The results showed that marital conflict and marital disruption each predicts subsequent depression after controlling for the initial level of depression and other antecedent variables. The effect of marital conflict on depression is stronger among women in poverty than those out of poverty. Furthermore, among women in poverty, marital conflict followed by marital breakup is related to a heightened level of depression, whereas among women financially better off, there is a reduction in the level of depressive affect.

Conclusions. These findings point to the importance of a family's economic condition and its impact on the interrelationships among marital processes and women's psychological health.