Leaving Gets Easier as You Age: Effects of Cohabitation Dissolution on Mental Health by Age and Gender

Yang Zhang , University of Michigan

This study examines how age and gender moderate effects of cohabitation dissolution on mental health. Drawing on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997 (NLSY97), I applied growth curve models to analyze trajectories of depressive symptoms (N=4496) and binge drinking behaviors (N=4503) among young adults between age 20 to 36. Results indicate that cohabitation dissolution is negatively associated with the mental health of young adults, but this negative relationship weakens as individuals age. Prior experiences of cohabitation dissolution buffer the negative consequences of cohabitation dissolution and partially explain the moderating effects of age on the negative association between cohabitation dissolution and mental health. I find no gender differences in the associations between cohabitation dissolution with either depressive symptoms or binge drinking behaviors. Among the current cohorts of young adults, cohabitation dissolution is negatively related to mental health and this association is similar by gender but disparate over the life course.

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 Presented in Session 111. Demography of Mental Health