Dual work and family roles and depressive symptoms in two birth cohorts of women

  • Stephanie KasenEmail author
  • Patricia Cohen
  • Kathy Berenson
  • Henian Chen
  • Rebecca Dufur



Rising depression rates in more recent cohorts of women have been attributed in part to their increased participation in dual family and work roles.


This study examined associations among depressive symptoms, age, and work and marital status in two cohorts of women, all mothers, born between 1931 and 1944 (preboomers) or between 1945 and 1958 (baby boomers), assessed at comparable ages.


Being married (vs. divorced) was related to less depression within and across cohorts, whereas working was related to more depression in preboomers only. Moreover, divorced working preboomers were significantly more depressed than women in most other role status groups within and across cohorts. Depression scores declined across age among working women in the combined cohorts; however, that association held only for baby boomers when cohorts were analyzed separately. Among divorced working women, that decline was significantly greater in baby boomers than preboomers.


These cohort differences support a call for new social policies that address the mental health needs of women and their children.

Key words

depressive symptoms women cohort effects work status marital status 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie Kasen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Patricia Cohen
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Kathy Berenson
    • 3
  • Henian Chen
    • 3
    • 4
  • Rebecca Dufur
    • 3
  1. 1.Dept. of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew York (NY)USA
  2. 2.Unit 47, New York State Psychiatric InstituteColumbia UniversityNew York (NY)USA
  3. 3.Epidemiology of Mental DisordersNew York State Psychiatric InstituteNew York (NY)USA
  4. 4.Joseph L. Mailman School of Public HealthColumbia UniversityNew York (NY)USA

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