This review assesses the research of the past decade on how economic deprivation, prosperity, and change influence social pathology. Absolute economic deprivation is associated with high levels of psychological distress, some forms of psychoses, and interpersonal violence, although not with relatively minor forms of crime and neurosis. The mechanisms through which these disorders arise have not been isolated, however. Economic loss, particularly as a result of unemployment, is related to high rates of psychological distress and suicide but not to elevated amounts of psychoses or crime. Some research associates long-term rates of economic growth with rising levels of alcohol consumption, increased utilization of mental health facilities, and higher crime and imprisonment rates, but the reasons for these associations have not been established either. Finally, there is no reliable correlation between absolute rates of economic change and the incidence of any form of pathology. Studies suggest that the relationship between the economy and social pathology is mediated by a number of factors including the stage of the life cycle, gender, social class, levels of social support, and personality. Several promising directions for further research are indicated.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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