The goal of this research is to study four basic issues: (1) the effects of maternal job loss on the mental health of single Afro- American mothers and their children, (2) the influence of social support, the quality of the mother-child relationship, and family decision-making style on children's response to maternal job loss, (3) the effects of maternal job loss and unemployment on children's achievement behavior, values, and expectations, and (4) the relationship of children's causal attributions about job loss and employment to their achievement behaviors, values, and expectations. The study also will examine the influence of several cognitive factors on mothers' response to job loss. Though few studies have examined the impact of parental job loss on contemporary children, the findings that are available justify concern about the mental health of children of unemployed workers. The proposed research will provide information about an understudied group that may be at increased risk of economic deprivation and psychological harm following job loss. It will provide insight into those factors that mitigate adverse effects of job loss on children and mothers. The subjects will be 150 unemployed, single Afro-American women and their 7th and 8th grade children and 75 employed, single Afro- American women and their 7th and 8th grade children. The study will use a 2-wave longitudinal design. Mothers and children will be interviewed twice, separated by a period of 5-6 months. Among the child variables that will be assessed are anxiety, depression, values and expectations about education, achievement behavior, values and expectations about work, and causal beliefs about unemployment. The degree of social support an the quality of the mother-child relationship also will be assessed. At each wave, teachers will provide an assessment of the child's school performance, peer relations, behavioral problems, and adaptive functioning. Among the mother variables that will be assessed are anxiety, depression, self-esteem, schema about individual- various system-blame, family decision-making style, expectations for the child and, causal attributions about job loss.
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