“The Serpent of Their Agonies”: Exploitation As Structural Determinant of Mental Illness

Abstract Background: Social stratification is a well-documented determinant of mental health. Traditional measures of stratification (e.g., socioeconomic status) reduce dynamic social processes to individual attributes downstream of mechanisms that generate stratification. In this study, we measure one process theorized to generate and reproduce social stratification—economic exploitation—and explore its association with mental health. Methods: Data are from the 1983 to 2017 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a nationally representative cohort study (base- line N = 3059).