The impact of economic recessions on depression and individual and social well-being: the case of Spain (2006–2013)
Although there is abundant evidence about the impact of economic crises on depression and other mental health problems, little is known about the protective role of variables linked to positive functioning (i.e., psychological well-being).
We analyzed data from Spain, one of the European countries most affected by the 2008–2013 economic recession, collected in Round 3 (R3, 2006) and Round 6 (R6, 2013) of the European Social Survey interviews. Both surveys included measures of psychological well-being, social well-being and depression. Both samples were nationally representative of the general population (R3: 1877 participants, 49.2% men; R6: 1889 participants, 48.9% men).
Data from the R6 survey showed that, compared to data gathered in R3 (i.e., before the onset of the recession) Spanish citizens showed significantly less life satisfaction (95% CIs 0.37–0.63), less personal optimism (95% CIs 0.03–0.15), less social optimism (95% CIs 0.75–0.85), and higher levels of depressive symptoms (95% CIs − 0.74 to − 0.19). Structural equation modeling revealed that protective factors for depression changed in both rounds. In R3 (2006), close relationships, social optimism and social trust were significant mediators between well-being and depression. However, social optimism and social trust were no longer significant in R6 (2013), whereas close relationships remained a partial mediator of the effects of psychological well-being on depression.
Economic crises are associated with a significant increase in depressive symptoms. Furthermore, financial crises seem to have a corrosive impact on mental health by reducing the mediating effects of positive beliefs regarding the good nature of society.
KeywordsDepression Economic issues Mental health Social factors Population survey Stressful life events
Compliance with ethical standards
This research received no specific grant from any funding agency, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Conflict of interest
Authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The authors assert that all procedures contributing to this work comply with the ethical standards of the relevant national and institutional committees on human experimentation and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008.
- 5.Bentler PM (2006) EQS 6 structural equations program manual. Multivariate Software Inc., EncinoGoogle Scholar
- 6.Boarini R, Comola M, Smith C, Manchin R, de Keulenaer F (2012) What makes for a better life?: The determinants of subjective well-being in OECD countries—evidence from the Gallup World Poll. OECD statistics working papers, 41Google Scholar
- 8.Clark AE, Flèche S, Layard R, Powdthavee N, Ward G (2017) The key determinants of happiness and misery. In: Helliwell JF, Layard R, Sachs J (eds) World happiness report 2017. Solutions Network Sustainable Development, New York, pp 122–143Google Scholar
- 10.European Commission (2009) Economic crisis in Europe: causes, consequences and responses. Luxembourg, Directorate-General for EconomicGoogle Scholar
- 11.European Commission (2013) Labour market developments in Europe 2013. European economy series. Brussels, Directorate-General for EconomicGoogle Scholar
- 12.European Social Survey (2014) ESS Round 6 (2012/2013): technical report. Centre for Comparative Social Surveys, City University London, LondonGoogle Scholar
- 13.European Social Survey (2017) Data and documentation. http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/data/. Accessed 2 Apr 2018
- 14.European Social Survey (2017) http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org. Accessed 2 Apr 2018
- 27.Huta V (2013) Eudaimonia. In: David S, Boniwell I, Ayers A (eds) Oxford handbook of happiness. Oxford University, New York, pp 201–213Google Scholar
- 30.Kawachi I, Berkman LF (2000) Social cohesion, social capital and health. In: Berkman L, Kawachi I (eds) Social epidemiology. Oxford University, New York, pp 174–190Google Scholar
- 35.Loosveldt G, Beullens K (2013) “How long will it take?” An analysis of interview length in the fifth round of the European Social Survey. Surv Res Methods 7:69–78Google Scholar
- 38.Martin-Beristain C (2006) Humanitarian aid work: a critical approach. University of Pennsylvania Press, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
- 45.Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. OECD (2015) How’s life? 2015. measuring well-being how’s life? OECD Publishing, ParisGoogle Scholar
- 46.Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. OECD (2017) Health at a glance 2017. Health at a glance. OECD Publishing, ParisGoogle Scholar
- 47.Peterson C, Seligman MEP (2004) Character strengths and virtues: a handbook and classification. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- 53.Reibling N, Beckfield J, Huijts T, Schmidt-Catran A, Thomson KH, Wendt C (2017) Depressed during the depression: has the economic crisis affected mental health inequalities in Europe? Findings from the European Social Survey (2014) special module on the determinants of health. Eur J Pub Health 27:47–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 55.Rodríguez MN, Ruiz MA (2008) Atenuación de la asimetría y de la curtosis de las puntuaciones observadas mediante transformaciones de variables: Incidencia sobre la estructura factorial. Psicologica 29:205–227Google Scholar