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Do living arrangements affect depression in later life? Evidence from Europe and the United States

Courtin, Emilie (2017) Do living arrangements affect depression in later life? Evidence from Europe and the United States. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.i0nrfrrjekux


Living arrangements of older people in Europe and the US have changed considerably in the last decades. The impact of these changes on mental health in later life is not fully understood. Making use of interdisciplinary ageing datasets (the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe and the Health and Retirement Study in the US), this thesis aims to evaluate how changes in the way older people live influence depressive symptoms in old age – focusing on two types of living arrangements: intergenerational co-residence and housing tenure. Composed of four empirical chapters, this PhD thesis makes four methodological and substantive contributions to the literature. The first chapter sets the stage for a cross-national comparison of the effect of living arrangements on depression. It assesses the comparability of commonly used depressive symptoms measures in the primary ageing datasets (Euro-D and CES-D scales). The second chapter focuses on the effect of early access to homeownership (before the age of 35) and housing stability on later life depression in the US. The findings suggest that accessing the housing ladder early on in the life course and remaining in that home are associated with both lower levels of depressive symptoms and slower progression of depression in later life. The third empirical chapter investigates the association between changes in housing tenure and depression in later life in the US. Using individual fixedeffects models, this analysis assesses whether within-person changes in housing tenure are associated with within-person changes in depressive symptoms. The analyses show that acquiring a home after 50 brings mental health benefits. The fourth empirical chapter evaluates the effects of intergenerational co-residence in 14 European countries. Using an instrumental variable approach to account for reverse causality, the findings suggest that co-residing with an adult child in the context of the 2008 economic crisis can yield mental health benefits for their parents. Taken together, the results presented in this thesis underscore the importance of living arrangements as key life course determinants of depression in old age.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Emilie Courtin
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Knapp, Martin

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