Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jeffrey A. Burr

Second Advisor

Frank W. Porell

Third Advisor

Kelly M. Trevino


The central objective of this study was to examine gender, race, and ethnic differences in the effects of education on late-life depression. This study differentiated education from other measures of SES due to the psychosocial resources developed through schooling. Education provides intrinsic resources, such as perceived mastery, that are beyond monetary value. Higher levels of education is hypothesized to increase perceived mastery throughout the life course and result in lower levels of stress, influencing psychological well-being in later life. The Stress Process Paradigm was the conceptual framework used for this study. The Stress Process Paradigm includes elements of Ross and Mirowsky's (2006) Resource Substitution and Resource Multiplication hypotheses. Ross and Mirowsky's hypotheses were used to examine whether education improves psychological well-being more for disadvantaged or advantaged groups. The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) was the data source used for this study. The analyses included an evaluation of both the prevalence of depression (cross-sectional models with the 2006 wave of the HRS) and the incidence of depression onset and recovery (longitudinal models with the 2006 and 2008 waves of the HRS). The analyses included examining the moderating effects of gender, race, and ethnic group status on the relationship between SES and late-life depression. Also, this study examined the mediating effects of perceived mastery and stress in the SES-depression relationship. The results suggested the benefits of education may have a more significant effect on psychological well-being than other indicators of SES. There was no evidence of gender moderating the relationship between education and depression. The results showed there appears to be a protective effect of education on depression for Whites. The results did not show mediating effects of perceived mastery and stress in the relationship between education and depression. Rather, the results implied a suppressor effect. Last, this study examined depression among specific gender-race-ethnic groups. It was found that White men have significantly lower odds of having depression than all other groups. This study concludes that it is important to understand that socioeconomic inequalities throughout the life course have an effect on mental health disparities in later life.

Included in

Gerontology Commons