Carol Graham
Barton H. Hamilton
Yung Chun
Stephen Roll
Will Ross
Karen E. Joynt-Maddox
Michal Grinstein-Weiss

Question: In what ways has the COVID-19 pandemic revealed differences across racial groups in coping, resilience, and optimism, all of which have implications for health and mental well-being?

Findings: Data obtained from 5,000 US survey respondents using a national sample indicate that, despite extreme income and health disparities before and during the COVID-19 outbreak, Blacks and Hispanics remain more resilient and optimistic than their White counterparts. Moreover, the greatest difference in resilience, optimism and better mental health—is found between poor Blacks and poor Whites, with some linkages to behaviors in compliance with lockdown guidelines.

Meaning: These deep differences in resilience have implications for the long-term mental health of different population groups in the face of an unprecedented pandemic. Better understanding these dynamics may provide lessons on how to preserve mental health in the face of public health and other large-scale crises.

Publication Type
Working Paper
File Description
First version, September 3, 2020
JEL Codes
I14: Health and Inequality
J15: Economics of Minorities, Races, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
J24: Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
mental health