Peer Groups, Employment Status and Depressive Symptoms Among Older Adults in Ireland
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Research has shown that employment status, such as being unemployed or retired, can be related to well-being. In addition, the direction and size of these relationships can be influenced by the employment status of one’s peer group. For example, it has been shown that the well-being of the unemployed tends to be higher for those living in high-unemployment areas compared to the unemployed living in low-unemployment areas. In this paper, we explore whether employment peer effects impact upon mental well-being among of older workers. We use depressive symptoms as an indicator of well-being and our interest is in how the non-employment of peers impact upon older people, where non-employment covers both retirement and unemployment. This is an important issue in the context of promoting longer working lives. If the well-being of older people in employment is lowered by low employment levels in their peer group, then sustaining high employment among older workers will be more difficult. We use data from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) which is a nationally representative sample of people aged 50 and over and living in Ireland, collected between 2009 and 2011. Employment peer effects are proxied using the peer group non-employment rate where a peer is defined as someone in the same age-group and region and of the same gender. We find that for the employed, an increase in peer non-employment is associated with an increase in reported depressive symptoms, whereas for those not employed such an increase is associated with a decrease in reported depressive symptoms. However, these findings hold mainly for men.
KeywordsPeer effects Depression CESD Employment Retirement
JEL ClassificationI10 J26 C21
We would like to acknowledge the helpful comments of colleagues at the Irish Longitudinal Study on ageing (TILDA).
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