Marriage, Money, and African American Mothers’ Self-Esteem


Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University, 2120 Campus Drive, Evanston, Il 60208 (


This study examined the effects of marital status and family income on the self-esteem of 292 African American mothers. Counter to previous studies with European American mothers, family income moderated the effects of marital status. Those mothers with higher family income had higher self-esteem, regardless of their marital status. For those with less family income, married mothers had much higher self-esteem than unmarried mothers. Low-income married mothers had the same levels of self-esteem as high income mothers. It was concluded that financial resources can buffer the effects of being single, and being married can buffer the effects of being low income. Policy initiatives that focus on reducing the financial hardship on single mothers and increasing the marriage rate among lower income parents were also discussed.