The Role of Age in the Relationship of Gender and Marital Status to Depression

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Research on sex and marital status differences in depression has grown rapidly in the last decade. However, little has been done to examine these relationships in a life course perspective. Utilizing a random community sample of adults in upstate New York, the current paper examines “male-female,” as well as “married-unmarried” differences in depression, controlling for age.Generally, unmarried females are found to be the most depressed of all sex-marital status groupings. However, among the married, controlling for age, young married females (17 to 24) are found to be contributing the most to the role of depression in married women. Excluding this subgroup from computations, there is no significant difference in the mean level of depression between married men and women.A specific test of Gove's “sex role hypothesis” is presented and the feasibility of utilizing a “clinical caseness” cutoff point on the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale is examined. The implications of these and other findings are discussed.

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