The Relationship between Mental Health and Marital Dissolution: The Prior Depression and the Following Divorce

Chioun Lee, Rutgers University
Hyun Sik Kim, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Among the evidence about the relationship between marital status and psychological well-being, numerous studies have established the social causation explanation, but few studies have examined the social selection effect of mental health on marital dissolution. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979, this study uses survival models to examine the relationship between depression as an early adult and subsequent divorce. In addition, this study examines the effect of marital quality on marital dissolution for females. Individuals who have a history of depressive symptoms have significantly higher risk of divorce over the course of their marriage, after adjusting for other predictors. Furthermore, even after adjusting for marital quality, depression still has a significant effect on the risk of divorce, suggesting that prior mental health may be a substantive precursor of negative events over the life course.

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Presented in Session 77: Families and Health