9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Mental Health Issues in Europe II Building I, 1E4

Gender Equity and Depression in Europe

The gender gap in depression is one of the most consistent findings in the social study of mental health, with a prevalence of depression among women approximately twice that found among men (Piccinelli & Wilkinson, 2000). However, there has been little quantitative cross-cultural research on the topic with only a few researchers studying society-level determinants. Resonating with the recent recognition of the importance of the social context in determining (mental) health (Diez-Roux, 1998), society-level determinants point to the gendered social, economic and political arrangements within society in generating gender equity and offer a useful framework for examining women?s preponderance in depression. Previous research did indicate a positive association between gender equity and (self-assessed) health (Backhans et al. 2007; Kawachi et al., 1999; Stanistreet et al., 2005; Torsheim et al., 2006). However, only two studies have tested this hypothesis on depression and their conclusions were contradicting; Chen et al. (2005) found that feelings of depression are more prevalent in low gender equity societies, while Hopcroft and Bradley (2007) concluded that the gender gap in depression is larger in high equity countries. It thus remains unclear how gender differences in depression are associated with society?s gender equity. Additionally it is not unlikely that a society that tolerates gender inequalities is also more likely to be an unhealthy place to live for both women and men, therefore not only affecting the relative gender difference but also the absolute depression levels of both genders. In the current study we will make use of the third Round of the European Social Survey, covering women and men aged 18 to 75 in 23 European countries (N = 36.752). We will explore to what degree gender equity is associated with levels of depression in both genders, accounting for transitioning countries and degree of national welfare. To the best of our knowledge, the present study is the first to present highly comparable data on the association between gender equity and depression in women and men in Europe.