Community income inequality and adolescent emotional problems: A population-based study

Arndis Vilhjalmsdottir*, Jon Gunnar Bernburg, Ragna B. Gardarsdottir, Inga Dora Sigfusdottir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This study contributes to the limited knowledge on the association between community income inequality and adolescent emotional problems, and explores whether these associations are contingent on national income inequality and personal deprivation. We obtained multilevel data from 10,223 adolescents (aged 15–16 years) nested within 82 communities in Iceland, at two time points: (a) in 2006 when income inequality was high and (b) in 2014 when income inequality had decreased. The associations are contingent on time period. Community income inequality was related to (a) an increase in anxiety in 2006 (b = 0.337, p ≤ 0.05), but not in 2014, and (b) a decrease in depression in 2014 (−0.958, p ≤ 0.05), but not in 2006. In 2006, community income inequality was more harmful to adolescents in deprived households. The results support the notion that the detrimental link between income inequality and adolescents’ emotional problems may be shaped by the level of income inequality in the larger societal context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-733
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Community Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

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© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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