'Downward Mobility' Hits Men Hardest

They're more likely to suffer depression than women as incomes decline, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 21, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- "Downward mobility," or a drop in economic and social class, quadruples the risk of depression in middle-aged men but doesn't have the same kind of impact on older women, British researchers say.

Reporting in the current issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne who studied more than 500 men and women found that more women than men were clinically depressed at age 50.

In total, twice as many women as men reported downward social mobility between birth and 50 years of age. The study also found that women's risk of depression at mid-life was strongly associated with their social class at birth.

However, by age 50, downwardly mobile men were more than 3.5 times as likely to be depressed as downwardly mobile women, the researchers found. Men who fell to a lower socioeconomic class were about four times as likely to be depressed as men who remained in the same social class, the study concluded.

The findings indicate that women may be more sensitive than men to low socioeconomic status when they're very young, but less so as they age, the researchers said.

They also noted that service industries have grown while Britain's manufacturing base has declined. And because service industries tend to employ more women than men, work in these sectors may affect men's role-identity and self esteem.

More information

The American College of Physicians has more about depression.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, Sept. 15, 2005

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