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Debt, social disadvantage and maternal depression

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  • Reading, Richard
  • Reynolds, Shirley
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    Abstract

    Depression is common among women with young children, and is strongly associated with financial adversity. Debt is a common feature of such adversity, yet its relationship with depression has not been examined before. We have used longitudinal data, collected over six months, on 271 families with young children, to examine this relationship. Multiple regression was used to identify independent predictors of the total Edinburgh Post-natal Depression Scale score from a range of socioeconomic, demographic, social support and child health related variables. Worry about debt was the strongest independent socioeconomic predictor of the depression score at both initial and follow-up occasions. To account for the possibility of reverse causation, i.e. depression causing worry about debt, alternative regression models are reported which show that owing money by itself predicts depression and earlier debt worries predicts depression six months later. We were unable to show that earlier debt worries independently predicted subsequent depression scores after the initial depression score had been taken into account in the analysis. Although debt has not been shown to be an independent prospective predictor of depression, our results suggest it has a central place in the association between socioeconomic hardship and maternal depression. Evidence from qualitative studies on poverty and from studies on the causes of depression support this hypothesis. The implications for policy are that strategies to enable families to control debt should be an explicit part of wider antipoverty measures which are designed to reduce depression and psychological distress among mothers of young children.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 53 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 4 (August)
    Pages: 441-453

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:53:y:2001:i:4:p:441-453

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    Related research

    Keywords: Maternal depression Poverty Debt Social disadvantage Health inequalities UK;

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    Cited by:
    1. Goode, Jackie, 2012. "Brothers are doing it for themselves?: Men's experiences of getting into and getting out of debt," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 327-335.
    2. Whitney Witt & Kristin Litzelman & Carmen Mandic & Lauren Wisk & John Hampton & Paul Creswell & Carissa Gottlieb & Ronald Gangnon, 2011. "Healthcare-Related Financial Burden Among Families in the U.S.: The Role of Childhood Activity Limitations and Income," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 308-326, June.
    3. Selenko, Eva & Batinic, Bernad, 2011. "Beyond debt. A moderator analysis of the relationship between perceived financial strain and mental health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(12), pages 1725-1732.
    4. Richard Disney & Sarah Bridges, . "Debt and depression," Discussion Papers 06/02, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
    5. Irina Grafova, 2011. "Financial Strain and Smoking," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 327-340, June.
    6. Aiga, Hirotsugu, 2006. "Reasons for participation in and needs for continuing professional education among health workers in Ghana," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 290-303, August.
    7. John Gathergood, . "Debt and Depression: Evidence on Casual Links and Social Stigma Effects," Discussion Papers 11/10, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
    8. Sweet, Elizabeth & Nandi, Arijit & Adam, Emma K. & McDade, Thomas W., 2013. "The high price of debt: Household financial debt and its impact on mental and physical health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 94-100.

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