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Debt, social disadvantage and maternal depression

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  • Reading, Richard
  • Reynolds, Shirley

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Reading, Richard & Reynolds, Shirley, 2001. "Debt, social disadvantage and maternal depression," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 441-453, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:53:y:2001:i:4:p:441-453
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Daniel Gray, 2014. "Financial Concerns and Overall Life Satisfaction: A Joint Modelling Approach," Working Papers 2014008, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    3. Hojman, Daniel A. & Miranda, Álvaro & Ruiz-Tagle, Jaime, 2016. "Debt trajectories and mental health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 54-62.
    4. 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.
    5. Böckerman, Petri & Maczulskij, Terhi, 2016. "The Education-health Nexus: Fact and fiction," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 112-116.
    6. Dackehag, Margareta & Ellegård, Lina Maria & Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Nilsson, Therese, 2016. "Day-to-Day Living Expenses and Mental Health," Working Papers 2016:19, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    7. John Gathergood, "undated". "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. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Bridges, Sarah & Disney, Richard, 2010. "Debt and depression," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 388-403, May.
    11. Daniel Hojman & Alvaro Miranda & Jaime Ruiz-Tagle, 2013. "Over Indebtedness and Depression: Sad Debt or Sad Debtors?," Working Papers wp385, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
    12. Butterworth, Peter & Rodgers, Bryan & Windsor, Tim D., 2009. "Financial hardship, socio-economic position and depression: Results from the PATH Through Life Survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 229-237, July.
    13. Lawrence M. Berger & J. Michael Collins & Laura Cuesta, 2016. "Household Debt and Adult Depressive Symptoms in the United States," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 42-57, March.
    14. repec:spr:soinre:v:135:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1472-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Manuel, Jennifer I. & Martinson, Melissa L. & Bledsoe-Mansori, Sarah E. & Bellamy, Jennifer L., 2012. "The influence of stress and social support on depressive symptoms in mothers with young children," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(11), pages 2013-2020.
    16. 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.
    17. Declan French, 2016. "Financial Strain in the United Kingdom," CHaRMS Working Papers 16-02, Centre for HeAlth Research at the Management School (CHaRMS).
    18. Irina Grafova, 2011. "Financial Strain and Smoking," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 327-340, June.
    19. Clayton, Maya & Liñares-Zegarra, José & Wilson, John O.S., 2015. "Does debt affect health? Cross country evidence on the debt-health nexus," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 51-58.

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