Linked Work Lives: The Influence of Own and Partner’s Midlife Employment History on Mental Health in Older European Couples

Miriam Engels , Institute of Medical Sociology, Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Deborah De Moortel, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Simone Weyers, Centre for Health and Society, University Clinic Duesseldorf
Nico Dragano, Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf
Morten Wahrendorf, Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf

Introduction: Despite evidence for the importance of previous employment for mental health at older age, little is known about the role of partner’s employment history in this. The present study aims to test the association of own and partner’s employment histories with depressive symptoms. Methods: Analyses are based on retrospective data from the SHARE survey for 5664 long-term couples, with detailed employment information for each age between 30 and 50 (full-time, part-time, domestic work or non-employed). We use cluster analysis to group similar employment histories. Finally, we relate own and partner’s employment histories to mean depressive symptoms (EURO-D). Results: We find that working lives are linked and that associations between own employment history and depressive symptoms are partly moderated by partner’s history. Men show higher depressive symptoms after periods of non-employment, especially with partners in part-time employment. For women, we find higher depressive symptoms only when both partners were non-employed.

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 Presented in Session 4. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions