Aim: To examine whether late-career job loss increased depression among older workers approaching retirement in the USA and Europe.
Methods: Longitudinal data came from the Health and Retirement Survey and the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe. Workers aged 50 to 64 years in 13 European countries and the USA were assessed biennially from 2006 to 2010. Individual fixed effects models were used to test the effect of job loss on depressive symptoms, controlling for age, sex, physical health, initial wealth and socio-demographic factors.
Results: Job loss was associated with a 4.78% [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.823% to 8.74%] increase in depressive symptoms in the USA compared with a 3.35% (95% CI: 0.486% to 6.22%) increase in Europe. Job loss due to a worker's unexpected firm closure increased depression scores in both the USA (beta=28.2%, 95% CI: 8.55% to 47.8%) and Europe (beta=7.50%, 95% CI: 1.25% to 13.70%), but pooled models suggested significantly stronger effects for US workers (P<0.001). American workers who were poorer before the recession experienced significantly larger increases in depressive symptoms compared with wealthier US workers (beta for interaction=-0.054, 95% CI: -0.082 to -0.025), whereas pre-existing wealth did not moderate the impact of job loss among European workers.
Conclusions: Job loss is associated with increased depressive symptoms in the USA and Europe, but effects of job loss due to plant closure are stronger for American workers. Wealth mitigates the impact of job loss on depression in the USA more than in Europe.
Keywords: Economic recession; ageing; depression; mental health; unemployment.
© The Author 2014; all rights reserved. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association.