Socioeconomic Inequalities and Mothers' Mental Health: Current and Future Implications for Sociological Research
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In sociological research, numerous studies document strong associations between socioeconomic status and mental or physical health. At the same time, mothers represent a vulnerable and distinct population group, and research into how socioeconomic status is related to health among mothers is far more limited. Given this important knowledge gap, the current thesis aims to uncover and organize current research into socioeconomic health inequalities among mothers by conducting a systematic, query-driven review of the literature regarding socioeconomic status and mothers’ mental health. Drawing on articles from six of the leading sociological journals, common frameworks, methodologies, and findings are identified and organized. Particular attention is given to the relationship between work-family conflict and health. After examining the quantity and nature of the existing research into socioeconomic disparities in health among mothers, the thesis considers key strengths and weaknesses of the most common sociological approaches. It concludes by drawing on selected examples of non-sociological research into mothers’ mental health, specifically depression during and immediately following pregnancy, to help inspire some potential next steps for sociological science.