Children’s Age at Parental Divorce and Depression in Early and Mid-Adulthood

Emily Grundy, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex
Øystein Kravdal, University of Oslo

The aim of the study was to assess whether children’s age at their parents’ divorce is associated with their chance of suffering from depression in early and mid-adulthood, as indicated by medication use. Unlike the few previous investigations, based on rather small datasets, a sibling comparison method was used. The data were extracted from the Norwegian Population Register and the Norwegian Prescription Database and included nearly 200,000 individuals aged 20-44 who had experienced parental divorce. Controlling for age in 2004, sex and birth order, children’s age at parental divorce was inversely related to their chance of purchasing antidepressants in 2004-08. For example, children who were aged 15-19 when their parents divorced were 16 percent less likely to purchase antidepressants than those experiencing the divorce at age 0-4. This is partly due to differences in educational achievements. The association was particularly strong for women and those whose mother had low education.

Presented in Session 7: Early-Life Conditions and Later Life Health Effects