Household Assets, the Role of Government Assistance, and Depression Among Low-Income Families in Shanghai

Shiyou Wu, Mimi V. Chapman, Meihua Zhu, Xiafei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


As China’s economy is rapidly changing from a planned to a capitalist economy, many families find themselves financially struggling. In some cases, conflicting values and attitudes may contribute to mental health challenges such as depression that would lead to further feelings of helplessness and immobilization. Using a random sample of 1006 low-income households from Pudong District of Shanghai, China, this study aims to examine the relationships between household assets, beliefs about government as the primary way to improve economic circumstances and self-reported depressive symptoms. In addition, this study investigates the mediation effects of beliefs that government is the best change agent for improved life circumstances on the relationship between household assets and depression. We found those who indicated that government was the main means for attaining a better life had significantly higher depression levels whereas higher numbers of household assets were associated with lower depression levels. We also found that viewing government as the most important change agent only partially mediated the relationship between household assets and depression (p <.001). Findings from this study support anti-poverty policies and social work related practice initiatives aimed at assisting low income families in China, in particular the need to address psychological as well as economic needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-584
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number2
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • Depression
  • Government assistance
  • Household assets
  • Low income
  • Poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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