Abstract: Everyday Discrimination during the Transition to Adulthood: It's Complicated (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

578P Everyday Discrimination during the Transition to Adulthood: It's Complicated

Sunday, January 16, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Mansi Patel, MBA, LMSW, Doctoral Student & Graduate Research Assistant, University of Texas at Arlington, McKinney, TX
Euijin Jung, Ph.D., PhD student, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Ashley Palmer, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Arlington
Ryon Cobb, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Southern California, CA
Background: Everyday discrimination, defined as frequent, subtle slights related to characteristics such as race and sex, has been found to be associated with poorer physical and mental health for adolescents and adults. People of color and females continue to encounter systematic prejudice and discrimination that restrict opportunity and reduce well-being in pervasive ways that can contribute to disparities in health and well-being. Critical periods in the life course, such as the transition from adolescence to adulthood may hold particular importance for future health and well-being. During this transition, young people often explore a variety of possible life directions in love, work, and worldviews, and perceived discrimination may have profound effects on the formation of identities and future life trajectories. Despite the preponderance of research examining everyday discrimination and health, we have limited understanding of how everyday discrimination changes over time or how gender and race/ethnicity factor into the perceived discrimination. This study begins to fill gaps in the existing knowledge base by examining individual differences in perceived discrimination by race/ethnicity and gender during an important life course transition – the transition into adulthood.

Methods: This study utilized the data from seven waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics Transition into Adulthood Supplement. We used an accelerated cohort design with participants entering the sample in six cohorts and restricted the sample to individuals with at least two observations who identified as White, Black, or Hispanic (n=2,532). Developmental trajectories of everyday discrimination across ages 18 to 27 were estimated using multilevel longitudinal growth curve models with the SAS Proc Mixed procedure. Everyday discrimination was measured using items from the Everyday Discrimination Scale (Williams, Yu, Jackson, & Anderson, 1997). Age was the unit of time, and analyses included time invariant variables for combined race/ethnicity and sex groups, family socioeconomic status, and age at baseline.

Results: Results from the final model showed significant differences in initial experiences of everyday discrimination. Compared to White males (b = 18.26), females in each racial/ethnic group had lower initial EDS scores (White: b = -0.87, p<0.001; Black: b = -1.55, p<0.001; Hispanic: b = -3.06, p<0.001). There were no significant differences in initial EDS scores among males from different racial/ethnic groups. Random intercept and slope coefficients indicated individual variation in initial EDS scores (95%CI[7.96-28.56]) and rate of change over time (95%CI[-1.23, 1.03).

Conclusions: On average, young adults reported low incidence of everyday discrimination between ages 18 and 27. However, compared to White males, Black, Hispanic, and White females reported significantly lower levels of everyday discrimination. Further, there was considerable variation in everyday discrimination at baseline and in the direction and rate of change over time. While surprising, these findings may reaffirm previous research in zero-sum beliefs and racial resentment hypotheses, which suggest there is a tendency for dominant groups (such as White males) to view progress in zero-sum terms and an inclination of Whites to feel that they are victims of discrimination.