A longitudinal comparison of depression in the US and England

Contact: Bram Vanhoutte  
Email: bram.vanhoutte@manchester.ac.uk  

Short introduction

Depressive episodes are quite common in later life, and interrelated with stressful events in later life and conditions, such as cognitive impairment or chronic illness, that trigger similar symptoms. About 15% of the elderly population is estimated to suffer from minor depression (Van den Berg et al, 2001), which has given rise to the idea of a specific, more somatic form of depression in later life (Parmelee, 2007). As later life is a period full of transitions, a longitudinal perspective, taking account of this dynamic nature, can inform us to what extent these changes have an impact on the occurrence of depressive symptoms.

By making use of comparable information in two longitudinal studies (the Health and Retirement Study and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing) in two distinct contexts, the US and England, some broader conclusions on the relation between depressive symptoms and social factors, and how this relation is affected by the societal context can be drawn.


Parmelee, P. A. (2007). Depression. Encyclopedia of Gerontology.

Van den Berg, M. D., Oldehinkel, a J., Bouhuys, a L., Brilman, E. I., Beekman, a T., & Ormel, J. (2001). Depression in later life: three etiologically different subgroups. Journal of affective disorders, 65(1), 19–26.

Current research outputs from this strand

Vanhoutte, B. (2012) Depression in the USA and England. London, ELSA Wave 5 Launch Conference, 15 October 2012.

Vanhoutte, B. (2012) The structure of well-being in later life in the US and England, XI International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies Conference, Venice, 1-4 November 2012.