The Urban Neighborhood, Depressive Symptoms and Age: Stress and Psychosocial Resources
Frederick Harig, University of California, Los Angeles
This study investigated whether exposure to neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage (NSD) is associated with depressive symptoms among older adults. This secondary data analysis of the 2006-2008 Health and Retirement Study included 8,623 adults aged 52-104 from 3,216 urban neighborhoods. Investigated factors include: stressors (neighborhood physical disorder and financial strain) and psychosocial resources (mastery, social support, and religious service attendance). Age cohort differences were examined. NSD was positively associated with depressive symptoms. Exposure to stressors partially explained the association; while psychosocial resources suppressed it. A significant, curvilinear cross-level interaction with age was found: NSD is positively associated with symptoms among those under 64, but has little effect among persons 65-74 years, and is negative at older ages. The mental health disparity for depressive symptoms in NSD is partially due to greater exposure to stressors and fewer resources to counteract this exposure. The counter-intuitive inverse association among the oldest adults warrants further investigation.