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More Money, More Problems?

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Suniya Luthar

Professor Suniya Luthar's research has examined the problems experienced by affluent youth.

Professor Suniya Luthar recently spoke to an audience of the parents of affluent children in Massachusetts about some of the problems their children may experience.  Her research on the topic includes her 1999 study of suburban high school students whose families averaged twice the national median income and their urban counterparts.  Her findings suggest children from affluent backgrounds have more problems than their less wealthy peers with depression, anxiety, and "risky behaviors" such as substance abuse.

 

"There is an underlying belief in these communities that if it looks good, it must be OK," Luthar stated in an interview.  "If the kids are performing well in school, they must be OK. If the house is well kept and the family looks healthy, it must be fine."  Despite these beliefs, Luthar's research found 46 percent of the affluent girls had used an illegal substance within the past year in contrast to 26 percent of the lower-income girls.  Similarly, 59 percent of the wealthier boys had used an illegal drug within the past year, 26 percent more than the lower-income boys.  "There's almost a fear and a reluctance, which all of us have, to scratch below the surface and come face to face with the challenges that might be experienced by the family and children," said the professor of psychology and education.

 

The article, entitled "Parents See Downside of Wealth," appeared in the January 20 edition of the Boston Globe.

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