Poverty measurement and depression symptomology in the context of welfare reform.

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Poverty measurement and depression symptomology in the context of welfare reform.

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The present study addresses current debates in the literature by examining and comparing methods used to define and measure poverty, and examining the relationship between poverty and depression symptomology. The data come from a USDA-funded, NC-233 multi-state, longitudinal project entitled "Rural Low-Income Families: Tracking Their Well-Being and Functioning in the Context of Welfare Reform," commonly called "Rural Families Speak." The first wave of data includes 413 rural mothers who earned below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guideline and had at least one child under the age of 13. Data was gathered over 3 waves from 23 rural counties in 13 states, between May, 1999 and October, 2003. The study was timed to examine the effects of welfare reform rules that limit benefit receipt to 60 months in a lifetime. This study explores two significant issues related to poverty and depression symptomology. How to best measure poverty as it relates to depression symptomology is addressed in Phase 1, through a comparative analysis of six different poverty measures. Phase 2 utilizes two poverty measures that show the strongest relationship with depression symptomology to address the question of whether poverty causes depression, or depression causes poverty, through a comparison of social causation and social selection theories. Depression symptomology is determined through use of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Phase 1 analysis reveals food security as the poverty measure with the strongest relationship to depression symptomology. Annual income calculated as a percentage of the Federal Poverty Guideline shows the second strongest relationship. Phase 2 analyses are completed in four data runs. Two data runs that include a series of regression analyses use food security and depression symptomology, interchanging each as the independent and dependent variables. The data runs are then repeated using the poverty guideline measure. Phase 2 results reveal limited support for social causation theory, with a few models showing marginally significant effects when food security in an earlier wave predicts depression symptomology in a later wave. Implications for using food security as a measure of poverty, policy implications, directions for future research, and application of findings are discussed.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. January 2011. Major: Family Social Science. Advisor: Jean W. Bauer. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 100 p.

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Frazer, Monica Schmitz. (2011). Poverty measurement and depression symptomology in the context of welfare reform.. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/101840.

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