Observational Study
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2024. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Psychiatry. Feb 19, 2024; 14(2): 296-307
Published online Feb 19, 2024. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v14.i2.296
Disparities in the impact of economic well-being on self-esteem in adulthood: Race and ethnicity
Jaewon Lee
Jaewon Lee, School of Social Work, Inha University, Incheon 22212, South Korea
Author contributions: Author has read and approved the final manuscript.
Institutional review board statement: This is not applicable as this study used secondary data which are publicly accessible.
Informed consent statement: Not applicable in this study.
Conflict-of-interest statement: The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Data sharing statement: Data has been made publicly available via National Longitudinal Surveys and can be accessed at https://www.nlsinfo.org/content/cohorts/nlsy79.
STROBE statement: The authors have read the STROBE Statement—checklist of items, and the manuscript was prepared and revised according to the STROBE Statement—checklist of items.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: https://creativecommons.org/Licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Corresponding author: Jaewon Lee, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Inha University, 100 Inha-ro, Incheon 22212, South Korea. j343@inha.ac.kr
Received: October 19, 2023
Peer-review started: October 19, 2023
First decision: December 11, 2023
Revised: December 15, 2023
Accepted: January 18, 2024
Article in press: January 18, 2024
Published online: February 19, 2024

Most studies have defined economic well-being as socioeconomic status, with little attention given to whether other indicators influence self-esteem. Little is known about racial/ethnic disparities in the relationship between economic well-being and self-esteem during adulthood.


To explore the impact of economic well-being on self-esteem in adulthood and differences in the association across race/ethnicity.


The current study used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. The final sample consisted of 2267 African Americans, 1425 Hispanics, and 3678 non-Hispanic Whites. Ordinary linear regression analyses and logistic regression analyses were conducted.


African Americans and Hispanics were more likely to be in poverty in comparison with non-Hispanic Whites. More African Americans were unemployed than Whites. Those who received fringe benefits, were more satisfied with jobs, and were employed were more likely to have higher levels of self-esteem. Poverty was negatively associated with self-esteem. Interaction effects were found between African Americans and job satisfaction predicting self-esteem.


The role of employers is important in cultivating employees’ self-esteem. Satisfactory outcomes or feelings of happiness from the workplace may be more important to non-Hispanic Whites compared to African Americans and Hispanics.

Keywords: Economic well-being, Self-esteem, Racial/Ethnic disparities, Adulthood

Core Tip: Little is known about racial/ethnic disparities in the relationship between economic well-being and self-esteem during adulthood. Findings from this study expand on prior research in several ways: Focusing on adults’ self-esteem rather than adolescents, looking at racial/ethnic disparities in self-esteem among adults, better understanding of economic well-being by including factors that have not been addressed in previous studies, and examining racial/ethnic disparities in the relationship between economic well-being and self-esteem.