Unfulfilled expectations and symptoms of depression among young adults
This study uses the life course perspective and data from 16 waves of the US National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1979-1994) to examine whether unfulfilled expectations about educational attainment, employment, marriage, and parenthood are risk factors for subsequent symptoms of depression among young adults in the United States. Results from ordinary least squares regression analyses indicate that achieving a lower level of education than expected, becoming a parent unexpectedly, and being out of the labor force unexpectedly at ages 19-27 predict higher levels of depressive symptoms at ages 29-37, adjusting for demographics, family background, and earlier mental health. These effects do not significantly vary by gender, age, race/ethnicity, or family background, and are not explained by being selected out of the labor force for long durations because of mental or physical illness, attending school, keeping house, or other reasons. Overall, this study contributes to the literature on stress and mental health by acknowledging people's expectations about the markers of adulthood, and advances our understanding of why the timing of transitions in people's lives can have long-term mental health consequences.
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Volume (Year): 73 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 (September)
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