The double burden of poverty and marital loss on the mental health of older Australian women; a longitudinal regression analysis using 17 annual waves of the HILDA cohort
AuthorErvin, JL; Milner, A; Kavanagh, AM; King, TL
Source TitleSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology: the international journal for research in social and genetic epidemiology and mental health services
AffiliationMelbourne School of Population and Global Health
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsErvin, J. L., Milner, A., Kavanagh, A. M. & King, T. L. (2021). The double burden of poverty and marital loss on the mental health of older Australian women; a longitudinal regression analysis using 17 annual waves of the HILDA cohort. SOCIAL PSYCHIATRY AND PSYCHIATRIC EPIDEMIOLOGY, 56 (6), pp.1059-1068. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-020-02019-z.
Access StatusThis item is currently not available from this repository
ARC Grant codeARC/LP180100035
PURPOSE: Compared to men, older women have poorer mental health and are more vulnerable to poverty, especially when living alone. However, few studies have examined how gender, marital status and poverty are inter-related and are associated with mental health. This study examines the gendered associations between relative poverty, marital status and mental health in older Australians. METHODS: Drawing on 17 waves of the HILDA Survey, fixed-effects longitudinal regression analysis was utilised to examine the association between: (1) relative poverty (< 50% median household income) and mental health (MHI-5); (2) marital status and poverty, in a cohort of Australians aged 65 + years. We then examined effect modification of the association between relative poverty and mental health by marital status. RESULTS: Within-person associations, stratified by gender, showed that women in relative poverty reported poorer mental health than when not in relative poverty, however no association was observed for men. Being divorced/separated was associated with increased odds of relative poverty for women, but not men. Widowhood was strongly associated with relative poverty in women, and also among men, albeit a smaller estimate was observed for men. There was no evidence of effect modification of the relationship between relative poverty and mental health by marital status for either men or women. CONCLUSION: This study provides evidence that relative poverty is a major determinant of mental health in older Australian women. Addressing gender inequities in lifetime savings, as well as in division of acquired wealth post marital loss, may help reduce these disparities.
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