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Gender differences in depression in 23 European countries. Cross-national variation in the gender gap in depression

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  • Van de Velde, Sarah
  • Bracke, Piet
  • Levecque, Katia

Abstract

One of the most consistent findings in the social epidemiology of mental health is the gender gap in depression. Depression is approximately twice as prevalent among women as it is among men. However, the absence of comparable data hampers cross-national comparisons of the prevalence of depression in general populations. Using information about the frequency and severity of depressive symptoms from the third wave of the European Social Survey (ESS-3), we are able to fill the gap the absence of comparable data leaves. In the ESS-3, depression is measured with an eight-item version of the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale. In the current study, we examine depression among men and women aged 18-75 in 23 European countries. Our results indicate that women report higher levels of depression than men do in all countries, but there is significant cross-national variation in this gender gap. Gender differences in depression are largest in some of the Eastern and Southern European countries and smallest in Ireland, Slovakia and some Nordic countries. Hierarchical linear models show that socioeconomic as well as family-related factors moderate the relationship between gender and depression. Lower risk of depression is associated in both genders with marriage and cohabiting with a partner as well as with having a generally good socioeconomic position. In a majority of countries, socioeconomic factors have the strongest association with depression in both men and women. This research contributes new findings, expanding the small existing body of literature that presents highly comparable data on the prevalence of depression in women and men in Europe.

Suggested Citation

  • Van de Velde, Sarah & Bracke, Piet & Levecque, Katia, 2010. "Gender differences in depression in 23 European countries. Cross-national variation in the gender gap in depression," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 305-313, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:71:y:2010:i:2:p:305-313
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    Cited by:

    1. Baert, Stijn & De Visschere, Sarah & Schoors, Koen & Vandenberghe, Désirée & Omey, Eddy, 2016. "First depressed, then discriminated against?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 247-254.
    2. Dahlin, Johanna & Härkönen, Juho, 2013. "Cross-national differences in the gender gap in subjective health in Europe: Does country-level gender equality matter?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 24-28.
    3. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:28:y:2018:i:c:p:29-37 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Bahadır Dursun & Resul Cesur, 2016. "Transforming lives: the impact of compulsory schooling on hope and happiness," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(3), pages 911-956, July.
    5. Landstedt, Evelina & Almquist, Ylva B. & Eriksson, Malin & Hammarström, Anne, 2016. "Disentangling the directions of associations between structural social capital and mental health: Longitudinal analyses of gender, civic engagement and depressive symptoms," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 135-143.
    6. Kronenberg, C. & Jacobs, R. & Zucchelli, E., 2015. "The impact of a wage increase on mental health: Evidence from the UK minimum wage," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 15/08, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    7. Colombo, Emilio & Rotondi, Valentina & Stanca, Luca, 2018. "Macroeconomic conditions and health: Inspecting the transmission mechanism," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 29-37.
    8. Fleming, Paul J. & Gruskin, Sofia & Rojo, Florencia & Dworkin, Shari L., 2015. "Men's violence against women and men are inter-related: Recommendations for simultaneous intervention," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 249-256.
    9. repec:eee:intell:v:68:y:2018:i:c:p:30-36 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Sekine, Michikazu & Tatsuse, Takashi & Kagamimori, Sadanobu & Chandola, Tarani & Cable, Noriko & Marmot, Michael & Martikainen, Pekka & Lallukka, Tea & Rahkonen, Ossi & Lahelma, Eero, 2011. "Sex inequalities in physical and mental functioning of British, Finnish, and Japanese civil servants: Role of job demand, control and work hours," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(4), pages 595-603, August.
    11. Palència, Laia & Malmusi, Davide & De Moortel, Deborah & Artazcoz, Lucía & Backhans, Mona & Vanroelen, Christophe & Borrell, Carme, 2014. "The influence of gender equality policies on gender inequalities in health in Europe," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 25-33.
    12. Bettina Casad & Amy Marcus-Newhall & Brandon Nakawaki & Alian Kasabian & Judith LeMaster, 2012. "Younger Age at First Childbirth Predicts Mothers’ Lower Economic and Psychological Well-Being Later in Life," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 421-435, December.

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