Sex Differences in the Effect of Education on Depression: Resource Multiplication or Resource Substitution?

University of Texas at Austin, USA.
Social Science & Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.89). 10/2006; 63(5):1400-13. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.03.013
Source: PubMed


Does education improve psychological well-being more for one sex than for the other? Resource substitution theory hypothesizes that education improves well-being more for women, because socioeconomic disadvantage makes them depend more on education to achieve well-being. Resource multiplication implies the opposite, that education improves well-being more for men, because they get bigger labor market payoffs from it such as authority and earnings. Data from a 1995 survey of US adults with follow-ups in 1998 and 2001 support the resource substitution hypothesis. Depression decreases more steeply for women than for men as the level of education increases. The gender gap in depression essentially disappears among persons with a college degree or higher. Two mediating interactions appear to account for the convergence. Education increases work creativity more sharply for women than for men, thereby reducing depression. Education increases the sense of control for both sexes equally, but depression declines more steeply for women as sense of control increases. Growth curve analyses of depression vectors confirm the resource substitution pattern. The adulthood life course pattern of depression levels and changes depends more strongly on education for women than for men.

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    • "Drawing on theories of resource substitution and multiplication (Ross and Mirwosky 2006), this study examines the extent to which several key resources— marriage, employment, income, healthy lifestyles—moderate the mortality benefits of educational attainment among U.S. adults. We find that the benefits are contingent on several of these resources, especially for women. "

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    • "Although not established in previous research, a learning problem could potentially affect mental health in much the same way as other chronic stressors, not only because it causes increased difficulty in employment, education, and social settings (Horowitz, 2006), but also because it often results in lower educational attainment (Beitchman, Wilson, Douglas, Young, & Adlaf, 2001). Higher education has been associated with decreased depression, specifically for women (Ross & Mirowsky, 2006). Also, a primary correlate of increased depression found in extant literature is the perception of decreased control over one's life (Mirowsky & Ross, 2003). "
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