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Level of education, age of bearing children and mental health of women


  • Williams, Sheila
  • McGee, Rob
  • Olaman, Susan
  • Knight, Robert


The present study examined the longitudinal relationship between women's mental health and both their level of education and age at which they had their first child. The women were divided into four groups depending on whether or not they had further education after leaving school and whether or not they had a baby before the age of 21. Longitudinal data collected over a 19-year period from this group of women suggested that psychological morbidity was relatively stable across this time span. Women who left school without proceeding to further education and those who became mothers before the age of 21 had higher psychological symptom scores than the other groups throughout this period. These two factors were associated with poorer mental health in an additive fashion. The women were also more likely to have separated from the father of their child and continued to be economically disadvantaged into mid-life.

Suggested Citation

  • Williams, Sheila & McGee, Rob & Olaman, Susan & Knight, Robert, 1997. "Level of education, age of bearing children and mental health of women," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 45(6), pages 827-836, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:45:y:1997:i:6:p:827-836

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    Cited by:

    1. Aitken, Zoe & Hewitt, Belinda & Keogh, Louise & LaMontagne, Anthony D. & Bentley, Rebecca & Kavanagh, Anne M., 2016. "Young maternal age at first birth and mental health later in life: Does the association vary by birth cohort?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 9-17.
    2. Liao, Tim, 2003. "Mental health, teenage motherhood, and age at first birth among British women in the 1990s," ISER Working Paper Series 2003-33, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    3. Mossakowski, Krysia N., 2011. "Unfulfilled expectations and symptoms of depression among young adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(5), pages 729-736, September.


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