Matthew Grace

In a national survey fielded last spring, Assistant Professor of Sociology Matthew Grace asked college seniors about different concerns they had about the future. The results of his study were recently published online in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in an article titled “Status Variation in Anticipatory Stressors and Their Associations with Depressive Symptoms.” The article will also appear in the journal’s June print issue.

In his survey, Grace asked how frequently the students worried about future residential and economic security, such as finding a job, paying off student loans, or finding affordable housing; potential exposure to traumatic events, including the death of a family member or being the victim of a violent crime; and prospective experiences of discrimination like being discriminated against due to their race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Grace found that these different types of worries were more common among women, people who identify as transgender or non-binary, blacks, Latinos, those who are bisexual, and respondents who identified as gay or lesbian.

Relating the survey results to current circumstances, Grace said that “given the variety of challenges introduced by COVID-19, it’s quite possible that these concerns have only been heightened among members of these groups relative to last spring when the future was rosier for graduates.”

The survey results also showed that while worries about economic security, traumatic events, and discrimination were all associated with greater depressive symptomology, the association between worries about one’s economic security and depressive symptoms was particularly robust.

“In view of the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the economy (and the unemployment rate), I can only imagine how these concerns have been accentuated over the past few months,” Grace added.

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