Women's Union Status and Mental Health in Mexico

Kammi Schmeer, Ohio State University
Rhiannon A. D'Souza, Ohio State University

Mental illness is increasingly recognized as a major threat to well-being, particularly among women, around the world. Although marital status has been found to be an important determinant of women's mental health in the U.S., we know little about how women's union status affects their mental health in developing countries. To address this, our study investigates how union status affects depression among women in Mexico, where marriage rates remain high but nonmarital unions, divorce and single-female headed households are on the rise. We disaggregate union status into marital versus consensual unions and first versus higher order unions and find that both marital and consensual unions reduce the risk of depression compared with being divorced/separated or single. However, this health benefit only holds for first unions and there is a large mental health penalty for Mexican women living in second or higher order unions.

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Presented in Poster Session 3