Depression among the Elderly in China: Evidence from the CHARLS National Baseline

John Strauss, University of Southern California

In this paper, we focus on depression among the elderly in China using the CES-D 10. We use the data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) national baseline, fielded in 2011/12, to examine relationships between depression and factors such as gender, age, education, income (per capita expenditures) and early childhood health, while taking into account contextual factors. We fill a major gap by using the CHARLS data to explore the general patterns of depression and risk factors among the elderly nationwide, which has never been possible before. We find significant, negative relationships between depression and own education and per capita expenditure that are robust to the inclusion of highly disaggregated community fixed effects. Factors such as good general health during childhood are negatively associated with later depression. There exist strong gender differences, with females having higher depression scores. Differences in schooling explain part of these gender differences.

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Presented in Session 179: Mental Health and Disability over the Life Course