Social Class, Unemployment and Psychological Distress. Published in European Sociological Review, 1994, Vol 10 No 1
Christopher T. Whelan
Attemps to explain higher rates of psychological distress among lower class people have included reference to social selection, differential exposure to stress and differential vulnerability arising from inequalities in access to resources. Our analysis draws on data from a national survey of the Republic of Ireland in order to examine these hypotheses. No evidence to support the social selction hypothesis was found. In addressing the issue of differential responsiveness attention was focused on the interaction between unemployment and social class in their impact on emotional distress. Some support for the hypothesis of differential vulnerability was found among women, but our examination of the impact of husband's unemployment provided no evidence leadinng in this irection, while for men, unemployment actually had a stronger effect for men in higher social classes. The major factors leading to higher levels of psychological distress in the lower social classes are greater exposure to unemployment and economic deprivation.
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