Social distribution of social support: The mediating role of life events

Kristin D. Mickelson, Laura D. Kubzansky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Although the relation of socioeconomic status (SES) to social support has been discussed for some time, researchers have rarely systematically examined the social patterning of this resource. In addition, potential explanatory mechanisms have not been investigated. This study examined both the social distribution of social support and the role of life events in the association between SES and social support in a nationally representative probability sample of adults from the National Cormorbidity Survey. Higher education and income were related to more emotional support and fewer negative interactions. Individuals with higher incomes were also less likely to report acute and chronic life events. Finally, acute (but not chronic) life events mediated the relation between SES and social support (both emotional support and negative interactions). These results suggest the inability of lower SES individuals to mobilize social support in times of need may be explained by their more frequent experience of acute life events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-281
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Life events
  • Social support
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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