Depression and economic status: evidence for non-linear patterns in women from Mexico

Anand, Paul; Esposito, Lucio and Villaseñor, Adrián (2018). Depression and economic status: evidence for non-linear patterns in women from Mexico. Journal of Mental Health, 27(6) pp. 529–551.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09638237.2018.1521918

Abstract

Background. While a social determinants of health perspective might lead to the hypothesis that higher economic achievements should be associated with better mental health, the evidence for adults is mixed and inconclusive.

Aims. We test the role of wealth as a predictor of depressive symptoms controlling for a number of socio-demographic covariates, with a specific interest in gender-specific patterns.

Methods. Using a nationally representative survey from Mexico (N=44,618), we carry out multivariate regression analysis where we jointly model linear and quadratic measures of wealth to detect non-linear relations between depression and wealth.

Results. The paper reports clear evidence of an inverted-U relationship between depressive symptoms and wealth for females, whereas the relationship for males tends to be linear and decreasing with wealth as expected (though weak and significant only in the upper part of the wealth distribution). Our findings are robust to alternative empirical strategies and we discuss potential explanations for this novel finding.

Conclusions. The paper confirms that the association between standards of living and depression is complex, due to the mediating role of socio-demographic characteristics and the existence of non- linearities not fully explored in the literature.

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