Journal of Population Ageing

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 43–54 | Cite as

Peer Groups, Employment Status and Depressive Symptoms Among Older Adults in Ireland

Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Peer effects Depression CESD Employment Retirement 

JEL Classification

I10 J26 C21 

References

  1. Akerlof, G. A. (1980). A theory of social custom, of which unemployment may be one consequence. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 94(4), 749–775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Butterworth, P., Gill, S. C., Rodgers, B., Anstey, K. J., Villamil, E., & Melzer, D. (2006). Retirement and mental health: analysis of the Australian national survey of mental health and well-being. Social Science & Medicine, 62, 1179–1191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Clark, A. E. (2003). Unemployment as a social norm: psychological evidence from panel data. Journal of Labor Economics, 21(2), 323–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clark, A. E., & Senik, C. (2010). Who compares to whom? The anatomy of income comparisons in Europe. The Economic Journal, 120(544), 573–594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clark, A. E., Knabe A., Ratzel, S. (2008). Unemployment as a Social Norm in Germany. SOEP Paper. 132.Google Scholar
  6. Knight, J., Song, L., & Gunatilaka, R. (2009). Subjective well-being and its determinants in rural China. China Economic Review, 20, 635–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Powdthavee, N. (2006). Are there geographical variations in the psychological cost of unemployment in South Africa? Social Indicators Research, 80(3), 629–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Savva, G. (2011). Methodology. In A. Barrett, G. Savva, V. Timonen, R Kenny (Eds.), Fifty Plus in Ireland, the first results of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (pp. 293--303). Dublin: Trinity College Dubllin.Google Scholar
  9. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D Scale. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1(3), 385–401Google Scholar
  10. Van Solinge, H., & Henkens, K. (2010). Living longer, working longer? The impact of subjective life expectancy on retirement intentions and behaviour. The European Journal of Public Health, 20(1), 47–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Wu, A. D., & Zumbo, B. D. (2008). Understanding and using mediator and moderators. Social Indicators Research, 87, 367–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)Trinity College DublinDublin 2Ireland
  2. 2.Economic and Social Research InstituteDublin 2Ireland

Personalised recommendations