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Parental Divorce, Life-Course Disruption, and Adult Depression

Catherine E. Ross and John Mirowsky
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 61, No. 4 (Nov., 1999), pp. 1034-1045
DOI: 10.2307/354022
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/354022
Page Count: 12
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Parental Divorce, Life-Course Disruption, and Adult Depression
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Abstract

We examine the association between adult depression and childhood parental divorce, and the explanations for this association, using a representative national sample of 2,592 adults interviewed by telephone in 1995. Parental divorce may disrupt the life course, with lifelong consequences for adult well-being in two ways: lowered socioeconomic status and problems in interpersonal relationships. Compared with individuals who grew up with both parents, adult children of divorce have lower levels of education, occupational status, and income, higher levels of economic hardships (both current and past), more often marry young, divorce and remarry several times, find themselves in unhappy relationships, and mistrust people in general. However they do not have lower levels of social support. These associations hold when we adjust for sex, minority status, age, parental death, and parental education. The disadvantaged socioeconomic and interpersonal statuses link parental divorce to adult depression because more education is associated with lower levels of depression and because economic hardship, early marriages, unhappy relationships and mistrust are associated with high levels of depression. There are no direct intrapsychic effects of parental divorce on adult depression. Low socioeconomic status and problems in interpersonal relationships mediate all of the association.

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