Till Death Do Us Part - Widowhood, Gender and Depression in Old-Age

Barbara Schaan, University of Mannheim

This study examines the gender differences in depression after widowhood. Whereas several studies suggest that widowhood has stronger adverse effects for men, other studies find either no gender differences or higher levels of depression among women after bereavement. Using the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, we estimate multilevel models with N=25,097 respondents. Preliminary results indicate that although women report higher levels of depression after widowhood than men, the negative effect of widowhood is stronger for men. But this difference in depression after bereavement between women and men loses significance when holding constant traditional household labor division, financial strains and duration of widowhood. The gender-by-widowhood interaction terms vary significantly among the12 participating countries, which suggests that contextual influences play a role.

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Presented in Session 32: Social Factors and Mental Health in Late Life