Mechanisms Linking Family Structure and Parental Depression: A Cross-National, Longitudinal Analysis

Kevin Shafer , Brigham Young University
Alex Wambach, Brigham Young University
Mikaela Dufur, Brigham Young University

Parental depression has significant effects on child wellbeing and family functioning. As a result, the identification of factors predicting parental depression is significant. While some research has addressed the impact of family structure stability and changes on parental depression, little work has focused on the mechanisms linking the two questions. We leverage data from both the US (ECLS-K) and UK (Millennial Cohort Study) to consider three commonly forwarded mechanisms linking family structure change to parental depression: changes in economic resources, increased stressors, and efficacy/resilience. The results suggest differences in parental depression patterns by family structure between the two countries. Furthermore, our results indicate that economic resources work differently in the two countries, while patterns for stressors and efficacy are more consistent between the US and UK. The effects of all three are particularly important for parents in non-traditional family structures and for individuals with family structure transitions.

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