Depression in Later Life: The Role of Adult Children's College Education for Older Parents' Mental Health in the United States.
ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES:Research on the socioeconomic gradient in mental health links disadvantaged family background with subsequent symptoms of depression, demonstrating the "downstream" effect of parental resources on children's mental health. This study takes a different approach by evaluating the "upstream" influence of adult children's educational attainment on parents' depressive symptoms. METHODS:Using longitudinal data from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study (N = 106,517 person-years), we examine whether children's college attainment influences their parents' mental health in later life and whether this association increases with parental age. We also assess whether the link between children's college completion and parents' depression differs by parents' own education. RESULTS:Parents with children who completed college have significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms than parents without college-educated children, although the gap between parents narrows with age. In addition, at baseline, parents with less than a high school education were more positively affected by their children's college completion than parents who themselves had a college education, a finding which lends support to theories of resource substitution. DISCUSSION:Offspring education is an overlooked resource that can contribute to mental health disparities among older adults in a country with unequal access to college educations.
Project description:Children whose parents divorce tend to have worse educational outcomes than children whose parents stay married. However, not all children respond identically to their parents divorcing. We focus on how the impact of parental divorce on children's education varies by how likely or unlikely divorce was for those parents. We find a significant negative effect of parental divorce on educational attainment, particularly college attendance and completion, among children whose parents were unlikely to divorce. Families expecting marital stability, unprepared for disruption, may experience considerable adjustment difficulties when divorce occurs, leading to negative outcomes for children. By contrast, we find no effect of parental divorce among children whose parents were likely to divorce. Children of high-risk marriages, who face many social disadvantages over childhood irrespective of parental marital status, may anticipate or otherwise accommodate to the dissolution of their parents' marriage. Our results suggest that family disruption does not uniformly disrupt children's attainment.
Project description:The transition from primary to secondary education is a critical period in early adolescence which is related to increased anxiety and stress, increased prevalence of mental health issues, and decreased maths performance, suggesting it is an important period to investigate maths attainment. Previous research has focused on anxiety and working memory as predictors of maths, without investigating any long-term effects around the education transition. This study examined working memory and internalizing symptoms as predictors of children's maths attainment trajectories (age 7-16) across the transition to secondary education using secondary longitudinal analysis of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). This study found statistically significant, but very weak evidence for the effect of internalizing symptoms and working memory on maths attainment. Greater parental education was the strongest predictor, suggesting that children of parents with a degree (compared with those with a CSE) gain the equivalent of almost a year's schooling in maths. However, due to methodological limitations, the effects of working memory and internalizing symptoms on attainment cannot be fully understood with the current study. Additional research is needed to further uncover this relationship, using more time-appropriate measures.
Project description:This longitudinal study examined whether mothers' and fathers' depressive symptoms predict, independently and interactively, children's emotional and behavioural problems. It also examined bi-directional associations between parents' expressed emotion constituents (parents' child-directed positive and critical comments) and children's emotional and behavioural problems. At time 1, the sample consisted of 160 families in which 50 mothers and 40 fathers had depression according to the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. Children's mean age at Time 1 was 3.9 years (SD = 0.8). Families (n = 106) were followed up approximately 16 months later (Time 2). Expressed emotion constituents were assessed using the Preschool Five Minute Speech Sample. In total, 144 mothers and 158 fathers at Time 1 and 93 mothers and 105 fathers at Time 2 provided speech samples. Fathers' depressive symptoms were concurrently associated with more child emotional problems when mothers had higher levels of depressive symptoms. When controlling for important confounders (children's gender, baseline problems, mothers' depressive symptoms and parents' education and age), fathers' depressive symptoms independently predicted higher levels of emotional and behavioural problems in their children over time. There was limited evidence for a bi-directional relationship between fathers' positive comments and change in children's behavioural problems over time. Unexpectedly, there were no bi-directional associations between parents' critical comments and children's outcomes. We conclude that the study provides evidence to support a whole family approach to prevention and intervention strategies for children's mental health and parental depression.
Project description:Using five waves of the Taiwanese Longitudinal Study of Aging (1996-2011), we investigate (1) the association between family members' education and the age trajectories of individuals' depressive symptoms and (2) gender differences in those relationships. Our examination is guided by several theoretical frameworks, including social capital, social control, age as leveler, and resource substitution. Nested models show that having a more educated father is associated with lower depressive symptoms, but the relationship disappears after controlling for respondent's education. Including spouse's education attenuates the coefficient for respondent's education. A similar pattern appears when children's education is added to the model. Among all the family members, children's education has the strongest association with depressive symptoms, with a similar magnitude for both genders, although its strength gradually weakens as respondents age. Our findings suggest the importance of the transfer of resources from children to parents and how it may affect mental health at older ages.
Project description:Individuals with higher educational attainment live healthier and longer lives. However, not everyone benefits equally from higher education. In particular, the black-white gap in life expectancy is greater at higher levels of educational attainment. Furthermore, recent research suggests that disadvantaged African Americans in the rural Southeast who attend college have worse physical health than their similarly disadvantaged peers who do not attend college. The extent to which this pattern generalizes to a nationally representative, mixed-race sample is unknown. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, we test whether the health benefits associated with college completion vary by level of childhood disadvantage for depression and metabolic syndrome in young adulthood, across race/ethnicity. We find uniform lower depression associated with college completion regardless of childhood disadvantage, and across non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic young adults. College completion is associated with lower metabolic syndrome for whites across all levels of childhood disadvantage. In contrast, college completion is associated with higher metabolic syndrome among black and Hispanic young adults from disadvantaged childhood environments. Our findings suggest that, for minorities from disadvantaged backgrounds, finishing college pays substantial dividends for mental health but simultaneously exacts costs with regard to physical health. This pattern contrasts starkly with whites and minorities from more privileged backgrounds, for whom college completion is associated with benefits to both mental and physical health. These results suggest that racial disparities in health may persist in part because the health of upwardly mobile minorities is compromised in young adulthood.
Project description:<h4>Objectives</h4>More parents are borrowing to help their children pay for college. These loans may be a source of financial stress and worry, which could influence parents' mental health. We determine whether child-related educational debt is associated with worse mental health among parents and if fathers are more sensitive to this debt than mothers, given potential gender differences in financial decision-making and relationships with adult children.<h4>Method</h4>Data come from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, a nationally representative sample of persons born between 1957 and 1964. We used the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale and the Short Form-12 Mental Health Component Score to assess mental health. We restricted our sample to parents who had at least one biological child attend college and who were interviewed at age 50, when mental health was assessed (n = 3,545).<h4>Results</h4>Among fathers, having any child-related educational debt versus none was associated with fewer depressive symptoms, but having greater amounts of child-related educational debt was associated with more depressive symptoms and worse mental health. No relationship was found for mothers.<h4>Discussion</h4>Our findings indicate that the student debt crisis may also have mental health implications for aging parents, particularly for fathers.
Project description:Parental income and wealth contribute to children's success but are at least partly endogenous to parents' cognitive and noncognitive skills. We estimate the degree to which mothers' skills measured in early adulthood confound the relationship between their economic resources and their children's postsecondary education outcomes. Analyses of NLSY79 suggest that maternal cognitive and noncognitive skills attenuate half of parental income's association with child baccalaureate college attendance, a fifth of its association with elite college attendance, and a quarter of its association with bachelor's degree completion. Maternal skills likewise attenuate a third of parental wealth's association with children's baccalaureate college attendance, half of its association with elite college attendance, and a fifth of its association with bachelor's degree completion. Observational studies of the relationship between parents' economic resources and children's postsecondary attainments that fail to account for parental skills risk seriously overstating the benefits of parental income and wealth.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Although a number of studies have examined the effect of the out-migration of children on the mental health of 'left behind' elderly parents, research on the consequences of children's migration on the mental health and well-being of elderly parents left behind is inconclusive and a systematic review is warranted.<h4>Objectives</h4>To identify the association between the left behind or empty nest status and the mental health of older parents, and to identify common risk factors for poor mental health among those left behind.<h4>Methods</h4>Online databases CINAHL, PsycINFO, PubMed, Scopus and ProQuest were searched for research (2000-September 2017) that focused on the relationship between the migration of adult children and the mental health of the older parents (?50 years) left behind. The JBI Checklist for Analytical Cross Sectional Studies was used to assess the methodological quality of the articles.<h4>Results</h4>25 articles met the inclusion criteria. The studies identified that left behind older parents had higher levels of mental health problems compared to non-left behind. Left behind parents had higher depressive symptoms, higher levels of loneliness, lower life satisfaction, lower cognitive ability and poorer psychological health. A number of risk factors were identified for mental health disorders among the left behind parents, which included living arrangements, gender, education, income, physical health status, physical activity, family and social support, age, rural residence and frequency of children's visit.<h4>Conclusions</h4>This review synthesised the various studies related to the mental health of left behind parents, advancing the theoretical and empirical understanding of the implications of out-migration of adult children on the psychological health and well-being of older parents. More responsive preventive measures and effective management approaches are required for this vulnerable cohort.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Previous research on the relationship between children's depressive and externalising symptoms, experience of school, and academic attainment is inconclusive. The aims of this study were (i) to test bidirectional associations between children's school experience and depressive and externalising symptoms at age 10-11 and 13-14, (ii) to ascertain whether school experience age 13-14 is associated with academic attainment age 16, and (iii) to test whether school experience mediates the relationship between depressive or externalising symptoms and attainment.<h4>Methods</h4>Data was used from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (n=6,409). A cross-lagged model was used to investigate bidirectional associations between school experience (enjoyment and connectedness) and depression and externalising at age 10-11 and 13-14. The same framework was used to test if school experience aged 13-14 mediated associations of depressive and externalising symptoms with later attainment.<h4>Results</h4>Depressive and externalising symptoms at 10-11 were negatively associated with school connectedness (depressive: standardised β=-0.06, CI: -0.11, 0.01; externalizing: β=-0.13, CI: -0.17, -0.08), and school enjoyment at 13-14 (depressive β=-0.04, -0.08, 0.03; externalising: β=-0.08, CI: -0.13, -0.03). School enjoyment at 13-14 was positively associated with attainment at 16 (β=0.10, CI: 0.04, 0.15), and partially mediated associations between depressive and externalising symptoms at 10-11 and attainment at 16 (depressive: proportion mediated 2.2%, CI: -1.5, 5.9; externalising: proportion mediated; 4.7%, CI: 0.7, 10.1,).<h4>Limitations</h4>Results may be subject to residual confounding.<h4>Conclusions</h4>School enjoyment is a potentially modifiable risk factor that may affect educational attainment of adolescents with depressive or externalising symptoms.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>In the United States, due to residential segregation, racial minorities and families with low socioeconomic status (SES) tend to live in less safe neighborhoods than their White and high SES counterparts. As such, in the US, race and SES closely correlate with neighborhood safety. Due to the high chronicity of stress in unsafe neighborhoods, perceived neighborhood safety may be a mechanism through which race and SES are linked to children's mental health. Simultaneously, race and SES may alter the effects of perceived neighborhood safety on children's mental health.<h4>Aim</h4>To explore racial and SES differences in the effects of neighborhood safety on children's internalizing symptoms, we compared racially and SES diverse groups of American children for the effects of parents' perceived neighborhood safety on children's internalizing symptoms.<h4>Methods</h4>This cross-sectional study included 10484 children from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. Mixed-effects regression was used for data analysis. The predictor variable was parents' perceived neighborhood safety which was treated as a continuous measure. The primary outcome was children's internalizing symptoms reported by children. Race, parental education, household income, and family structure were moderators.<h4>Results</h4>Overall, the parents' high neighborhood safety was associated with lower levels of internalizing symptoms in children. Race and household income showed statistically significant interactions with subjective neighborhood safety on children's internalizing symptoms. Parents' perceived neighborhood safety showed a stronger inverse association with children's internalizing symptoms for Black than White families. Parents' perceived neighborhood safety showed a stronger inverse association with children's internalizing symptoms for high income than low-income families. Parental education or family structure did not show any significant interaction with parents' perceived neighborhood safety on children's internalizing symptoms.<h4>Conclusion</h4>The degree to which neighborhood safety may be associated with children's internalizing symptoms may depend on race and household income. Some of the effects of race and SES on children's mental health outcomes may be due to interactions with contextual factors such as neighborhood safety. More research is needed on why and how diverse racial and SES groups differ in the association between perceived neighborhood safety and children's well-being.