Welfare participation and depression among youth in the United States: A systematic review

Shiyou Wu, Qi Wu, Mark W. Fraser, Mimi V. Chapman, Qin Gao

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Scopus citations


    Welfare programs play important roles in the lives of vulnerable populations. However, since their inception, welfare programs have been accompanied by contentious debate about their impact on the wellbeing of participants and, hence, about their collective value as a strategy for alleviating poverty. This study uses welfare participation as a marker of lower socioeconomic status to identify and synthesize the relationship between welfare participation and depression among youth. A systematic review was undertaken based on literature published between 1997 and 2017 through a search of 9 electronic databases, 15 reports met criteria for study inclusion. Four descriptive studies reported mixed findings. Of the 11 comparison studies, 10 studies showed consistent findings that participation in welfare programs was associated with a higher vulnerability for depression. Discussion includes the effects of stigma related to welfare and mental health treatment, and the implications for policy makers, social workers, and future research.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)354-367
    Number of pages14
    JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
    StatePublished - Nov 2018


    • Depression
    • Systematic review
    • Welfare participation
    • Welfare programs
    • Youth

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Sociology and Political Science


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