Depression in Later Life: A Closer Look at the Gender Gap

Francesco Acciai, Pennsylvania State University
Melissa Hardy, Pennsylvania State University

In a framework that considers being healthy something more than the mere absence of diseases, the research on well-being in later life needs to provide better insights into the determinants of the disparities in mental as well as physical health and well-being. Depression is a highly disruptive and costly condition, particularly common among the elderly. Despite differences across countries and age groups, a non-trivial and relatively consistent gender gap in depression has been reported, although the reasons for this gap remain unclear. A possible explanation is that the part of the gender gap that is not explained by compositional differences might simply be the result of a reporting bias, as women would be more inclined to report depressive symptoms than men. We test this hypothesis by using a method that decompose the self-rating of health into two components, one of which is a proxy for personal response style.

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Presented in Session 208: Demographic Processes and Mental Health