Explanations for Education Gradients in Depression

Jinkook Lee, RAND Corporation

Our objective is to examine educational gradients in depression and to identify underlying mechanisms of how education might affect depression. We use a nationally representative sample of community-residing older adults aged 45 and older from the 2006 Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging, which collected information about depressive symptoms and education. Using tobit regression, we estimate the effect of education on depression and examine what can explain the education gradients by controlling for proxy variables of different pathways linking education to depression. We found strong age-adjusted education gradients in depression. We were able to explain all of the education gradients by cognitive ability, economic resources, social status, social network, and health behavior. Spouse’s education is found to be particularly important for women. Children’s educational achievement influences parents’ depression as well. Education affects depression through different underlying mechanisms, and the single most important pathway is through developing cognitive ability.

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Presented in Session 51: Factors Influencing Health in Later Life: Evidence from Developing Countries