The association between socioeconomic status and depression among older adults in Finland, Poland and Spain: A comparative cross-sectional study of distinct measures and pathways

J Affect Disord. 2018 Dec 1;241:311-318. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.08.077. Epub 2018 Aug 15.


Background: Socioeconomic status, as measured by education, occupation or income, is associated with depression. However, data are lacking on the psychosocial, material and behavioral mediators of these associations. We have examined the association of education, occupation and income with depression and the potential mediations using community-based data.

Methods: A total of 7,966 older adults were interviewed in Finland, Poland and Spain. The differential associations between depression and SES, mediator variables, country of residence and cofounder variables, such as chronic physical conditions, were assessed through logistic regression models. Meditation analyses were carried out using khb method for Stata 13.1.

Results: Education, followed by household income, were the SES indicators most frequently significantly associated with depression. These SES markers, but not occupation, showed an independent effect in this association. Psychosocial factors and loneliness in particular showed the strongest associations with depression among mediator variables. However, material factors and, especially, financial strain had a higher mediating function in the association between SES and depression. Overall, SES markers, chronic conditions and mediation factors were more positive in Finland than in Poland and Spain.

Conclusion: Improving psychosocial and material dimensions as well as access to the educational system for older adults might result in a reduction in the prevalence of depression in the general population and particularly among individuals with low SES.

Keywords: Depression; Older adults; Pathways; Socioeconomic status.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupations
  • Poland / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Social Class*
  • Spain / epidemiology