Depressive symptoms and long-term income: The Young Finns Study

J Affect Disord. 2016 Nov 1;204:120-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.06.028. Epub 2016 Jun 16.


Background: Higher depressive symptoms have been associated with lower future income. However, studies examining this issue have had limited follow-up times and have used self-reported measures of income. Also, possible confounders or mediators have not been accounted.

Methods: 971 women and 738 men were selected from the ongoing prospective Young Finns Study (YFS) that began in 1980. Depressive symptoms were measured in 1992 when participants were from 15 to 30 years old. Information on annual income and earnings from 1993 to 2010 were obtained from the Finnish Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data (FLEED) of Statistics Finland and linked to the YFS.

Results: Higher depressive symptoms were associated with lower future income and earnings. For men, the associations were robust for controlling childhood parental socioeconomic status, history of unemployment, and adulthood health behavior, but attenuated circa 35% when three major temperament traits were taken into account. For women, similar pattern was found, however, in the models adjusted for temperament traits the associations did not remain statistically significant. The association between depressive symptoms and earnings was three times stronger for men than women.

Limitations: Previous depressive episodes could have influenced on some participants' economic and educational choices.

Conclusions: Higher depressive symptoms in adolescence and early adulthood lead to significant future losses of total income and earnings, and this association is particularly strong for men.

Keywords: Depressive symptoms; Earnings; Income; Longitudinal; Prospective.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Class
  • Temperament
  • Unemployment / psychology
  • Young Adult