Disproportionate School Punishment and Significant Life Outcomes: A Prospective Analysis of Black Youths

Edith Chen*, Gene H. Brody, Tianyi Yu, Lauren C. Hoffer, Aubrey Russak-Pribble, Gregory E. Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This study tested relationships between racial inequalities in the school system—specifically, the disproportionate punishment of Black students—and life outcomes for Black youths, along with moderating psychological factors. In an 18-year longitudinal study of 261 Black youths (ages 11–29), we investigated whether adult life outcomes varied as a function of adolescent self-control and academic achievement. We tested whether relationships were moderated by the racial climates of the high schools that youths attended, using administrative data on relative punishment rates of Black and White students. Among Black youths who attended schools that disproportionately punished Black students, high self-control in early adolescence presaged higher academic orientation in late adolescence, which in turn predicted higher educational attainment, higher income, and better mental health in adulthood. However, among these same youths, higher academic orientation forecasted higher adult insulin resistance, a key process in cardiometabolic disease. These findings suggest that achieving successes in life in the face of racial inequalities may come at a physical health cost for Black youths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1375-1390
Number of pages16
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • health
  • minority groups
  • schools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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