Family and Household Composition and Health: Mechanisms and Moderators over the Life Course

Tracey A. LaPierre, Duke University

The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the link between marital status and mental health, with an emphasis on the contributions of the life course perspective, and stress process theory to our understanding of this relationship. Levels of depression amongst married, cohabiting, separated/divorced, widowed and never married individuals will be compared. A number of mechanisms that may account for the persistent relationship between marital status and depression will be tested and their relative importance at different stages of the life course explored. These potential mediators include household composition, financial resources, social support, social integration, self-esteem, personal mastery and religious participation. Age, race and gender will be included as control variables and examined as potential moderators. Education will also be included as a control variable. Data from the first two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households will be used to address these questions using a longitudinal framework.

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Presented in Poster Session 1: Aging, Life Course, Health, Mortality, and Health Care