East Meets West: Cross-National Comparisons of the Gender Gap in Depressive Symptoms among U.S. and Japanese Elders

Andrew D. Tiedt, Fordham University

This research investigated the correlates of depressive symptoms among U.S. and Japanese elders, focusing on the interaction between somatic health and informal support in determining the gender gap. Results confirmed that while the gap exists in both nations, it disappears or reverses itself after controlling for demographic, support and health-related variables. This study provided evidence for two findings that merit further investigation. First, elder Japanese men who described difficulties with activities of daily living reported more depressive symptoms than their female counterparts. Second, marital status was a strong predictor of depressive symptoms in the U.S. analyses, while coresidency with children occupied a similar role in the Japanese models. Future cross-national research cannot assume that preferences for independent living have become the norm across the developed world. Despite the decline of the multigenerational household in Japan, these findings imply its continued importance in governing the availability of informal caregivers.

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Presented in Poster Session 7