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Socioeconomic status and depression across Japan, Korea, and China: Exploring the impact of labor market structures


  • Nishimura, Junko


This study explores the effects of socioeconomic status on depression in Japan, Korea, and China, focusing on the differences in their labor market structures. Comparative studies among East Asian societies allow researchers studying depression to analyze the effects of unique institutions within each society while holding constant, to a certain extent, cultural attitudes toward mental disorders. This study uses data from National Family Research of Japan 2003, Korean National Family Survey 2003, and Family Survey of China 2006 to examine the effects of education and labor market positions on depression. The results show that the relationship between socioeconomic status and depression differs among the three societies. In Japan, the type of employment contract has a significant impact on depression, while in Korea, higher educational attainment negatively relates to depression. In China, the type of work organization has a significant impact on depression. Based on these results, two types of labor market structures, aimed at differentiating the relationship between socioeconomic status and depression, are delineated: labor markets with a secured sector, and flexible labor markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Nishimura, Junko, 2011. "Socioeconomic status and depression across Japan, Korea, and China: Exploring the impact of labor market structures," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(4), pages 604-614, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:4:p:604-614

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kim, Myoung-Hee & Kim, Chang-yup & Park, Jin-Kyung & Kawachi, Ichiro, 2008. "Is precarious employment damaging to self-rated health? Results of propensity score matching methods, using longitudinal data in South Korea," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(12), pages 1982-1994, December.
    2. Joonmo CHO & Jaeho KEUM, 2004. "Job instability in the Korean labour market: Estimating the effects of the 1997 financial crisis," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 143(4), pages 373-392, December.
    3. Inaba, Akihide & Thoits, Peggy A. & Ueno, Koji & Gove, Walter R. & Evenson, Ranae J. & Sloan, Melissa, 2005. "Depression in the United States and Japan: Gender, marital status, and SES patterns," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(11), pages 2280-2292, December.
    4. Kanbur, Ravi & Zhang, Xiaobo, 1999. "Which Regional Inequality? The Evolution of Rural-Urban and Inland-Coastal Inequality in China from 1983 to 1995," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 686-701, December.
    5. Kim, Il-Ho & Muntaner, Carles & Khang, Young-Ho & Paek, Domyung & Cho, Sung-Il, 2006. "The relationship between nonstandard working and mental health in a representative sample of the South Korean population," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 566-574, August.
    6. Lin, Nan & Lai, Gina, 1995. "Urban stress in China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1131-1145, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lei, Xiaoyan & Sun, Xiaoting & Strauss, John & Zhang, Peng & Zhao, Yaohui, 2014. "Depressive symptoms and SES among the mid-aged and elderly in China: Evidence from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study national baseline," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 224-232.


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