Social Justice Research

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 1–25 | Cite as

Perceived Unfairness and Psychological Distress: Less Harmful as Age Increases?

  • Min-Ah LeeEmail author
  • Ichiro Kawachi


Does perceived unfairness influence psychological well-being differently according to age? We sought to examine the association between perceived unfairness and psychological distress, testing whether and how age moderates the association. Data were drawn from the Korean General Social Survey, a nationally representative cross-sectional sample, collected in 2 years (2011, 2012). The survey measured two types of perceived unfairness: distributive and procedural unfairness. We found that both types of perceived unfairness were positively and independently associated with psychological distress. Our results also showed effect modification by age; in other words, the harmful effects of perceived distributive and procedural unfairness on psychological distress decreased with age, suggesting that younger people were more distressed by perceived unfairness than older people. Our findings suggest that perceived unfairness is harmful to psychological well-being, but its effects become less salient as people age.


Perceived unfairness Distributive unfairness Procedural unfairness Psychological distress Age 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyChung-Ang UniveristySeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Social and Behavioral SciencesHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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