Home eviction can lead to depression, high stress

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Washington, March 10 (IANS) Eviction from a home brings about a variety of lasting hardships including depression, poorer health and higher levels of stress, new research says.

The findings reveal a vicious cycle of eviction and poverty — while low-income families are more likely to get evicted, the hardships caused by eviction can make them even poorer.

This research demonstrates that eviction is a cause, not simply a condition, of poverty, the researchers noted.

The study focused on low-income, urban mothers — a population at high risk of eviction.

“The year following eviction is incredibly trying for low-income mothers,” said the study’s co-author Rachel Kimbro, associate professor of sociology at Rice University.

“Eviction spares neither their material, physical nor mental well-being, thereby undermining efforts of social programs designed to help them,” Kimbro added.

Mothers who were evicted the previous year experienced about 20 percent higher levels of material hardship and parenting stress, the findings showed.

According to the study, 50 percent of mothers who experienced eviction reported depression, compared with one in four similar mothers who did not experience eviction; and 20 percent mothers who experienced eviction reported their child’s health as poor, compared with 10 percent mothers who did not experience eviction.

Kimbro said that the hardship might lead to additional problems, such as relationship dissolution or moving into a disadvantaged neighbourhood.

“If evicted mothers experience higher rates of depression several years after their forced removal, as our findings indicate, that suggests eviction has lasting effects on mothers’ happiness and quality of life,” co-author Matthew Desmond, assistant professor of sociology and social studies at Harvard University, pointed out.

The study included longitudinal survey data from the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study (FFCWS), which follows a birth cohort of new parents and their children.

Interviews were conducted between 1998 and 2000 and contained information on 3,712 births to unmarried parents and 1,188 births to married parents from 20 US cities.

The study is forthcoming in the journal Social Forces.

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