The Association between Age and Depressive Symptoms among Older Men and Women in Europe. Findings from SHARE
Empirical evidence of the effects of age on depressive symptoms is mixed, ranging from positive to zero to negative effects, depending on the modelling of the age-depression profile. This paper uses internationally comparative data to analyse the association between age and the prevalence of symptoms of depression, controlling for well-known determinants of mental health. Based on the first wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), depressive symptoms of 28,538 persons aged 50 to 89 from eleven European countries and Israel are analysed using a negative binomial regression model. The results indicate that the number of depressive symptoms measured by EURO-D scores increase with age and are higher among women than among men. When including socio-demographic characteristics, health conditions and economic strains, the association between depressive symptoms and age vanishes for men, and even reverses for women. Thus, the association between age and mental health is mediated by the health and living conditions of older persons; age by itself has no explanatory power.