Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Naomi Wheeler

Second Advisor

Dr. Abigail Conley

Third Advisor

Dr. Kevin Clay

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Victor Chen

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Kaprea Johnson


The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the influence labor union affiliation has on psychological well-being and depression. Poverty and income-inequality are large challenges within contemporary American society. Labor unions have historically mitigated income-inequality, promoted solidarity, and decent working conditions. There is growing research on their role as a social determinant of health and mental health. This present study sought to expand this nascent literature base and examine if labor union affiliation influenced psychological well-being (made up of six subscales) and a depression scale through a secondary cross-sectional data analysis, derived from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS). A novel, interdisciplinary theoretical approach was constructed, using economics, political science, counseling education, sociology, and public health to investigate pathways between structural determinants and their individual outcomes. The dissertation study used a MANCOVA, with two levels (unionized versus non-unionized) and controlled for several covariates. Results indicated small but significant, multivariate group significance Pillais’ Trace = .005, F(7, 3323) = 2.334, p = 0.02. Follow up pairwise comparisons noted that only the subscale, personal growth, was statistically significant, with small yet significant results (p = .006, 𝜂p2 = .002), with the rest of the psychological well-being subscales and depression as non-significant. Mean score examination between both groups noted that the non-labor union affiliated group, scored slightly higher in the personal growth subscale: µ = 12.13 than the labor union affiliated group: µ = 11.81. These interesting results are interpreted, along with limitations and future recommendations for further research are suggested within the dissertation.


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