Education of Family Members and Trajectories of Depressive Symptoms among Older Adults

Chioun Lee, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dana A. Glei, Georgetown University
Noreen Goldman, Princeton University
Maxine Weinstein, Georgetown University

We investigate the extent to which the educational attainments of family members (father, spouse, and children) are associated with depressive symptoms of older adults and whether there are gender differences in these patterns. With five waves of a nationally representative sample of 4,716 Taiwanese, we use multilevel growth curve models. Having a more educated father is associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms, but the association disappears when taking the respondent’s own education into account. Including spouse’s education substantially attenuates the association with respondent’s education. A similar pattern is evident when children’s education is added. The association between family members’ education and depressive symptoms appears to be the strongest for children’s education, although its strength weakens as the respondent ages. The associations do not differ by gender. The observed relationship is not necessarily causal, but it underscores the potential importance of children’s education for psychological wellbeing in old age.

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Presented in Session 42: Families in Later Life