First-generation college graduates have similar depressive symptoms in midlife as multi-generational college graduates.

TitleFirst-generation college graduates have similar depressive symptoms in midlife as multi-generational college graduates.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsMeza, E, Hebert, J, Garcia, ME, Torres, JM, M Glymour, M, Vable, AM
JournalSSM Population Health
Volume25
Pagination101633
ISSN Number2352-8273
KeywordsFirst-generation, Intergenerational education, Midlife depressive symptoms
Abstract

PURPOSE: Higher education may protect an individual against depressive symptoms, yet, disadvantaged socioeconomic status (SES) during childhood, often measured by lower parental education, may put them at higher risk for depressive symptoms later in life. This study evaluates if midlife depression is similar for first-generation and multi-generation college graduates.

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p>METHODS: For US Health and Retirement Study (HRS) participants ages 55-63 (N = 16,752), we defined a 4-category exposure from parents' (highest of mother or father's) and participant's own years of education, with 16 years indicating college completion: multi-gen (both 16 years: reference); first-gen (parents <16; own 16); only parent(s) (parents 16; own <16); and neither (both <16) college graduates across three birth cohorts. We used linear regressions to evaluate relationships between college completion and depressive symptoms measured by an 8-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies - Depression (CES-D) scale. Models pooled over time evaluated differences by sex, race/ethnicity, and birthplace.

RESULTS: First-gen and multi-gen college graduates averaged similar depressive symptoms in midlife (: 0.01; 95% CI: 0.15, 0.13). Results were similar by sex and race/ethnicity.

CONCLUSION: Consistent with resource substitution theory, college completion may offset the deleterious effects of lower parental education on midlife depressive symptoms for first-generation graduates.

DOI10.1016/j.ssmph.2024.101633
Citation Key13799
PubMed ID38434443
PubMed Central IDPMC10905036