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Changes in Depression following Divorce: A Panel Study

Elizabeth G. Menaghan and Morton A. Lieberman
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 48, No. 2 (May, 1986), pp. 319-328
DOI: 10.2307/352399
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352399
Page Count: 10
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Changes in Depression following Divorce: A Panel Study
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Abstract

The relationship between marital status and psychological well-being has been subject to conflicting interpretations. In this paper, panel data are analyzed to assess the impact of changes in marital status on psychological well-being. Data from a large metropolitan Chicago sample are used to examine changes in depressive affect in a group of adults divorced during the four years between interviews, and to compare them with people who have remained married. Those who would subsequently divorce were not significantly more depressed at the first time point than those who would remain married. Four years later, however, the newly divorced had become significantly more depressed. This increase in depression is mediated by greater economic problems, the perception that one's standard of living has deteriorated, and the lesser availability of close, confiding relationships. These findings suggest that despite its increased frequency, divorce remains an event that brings economic and emotional hardship to many; the greater depressive affect of the unmarried reflects the worsened life conditions they experience.

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