Is the Gender Wage Gap Responsible for Higher Rates of Anxiety and Depression Among Women?

Researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University have published a new study that shows the gender gap in wages may be a major reason for the fact that women are more than twice as likely as men to suffer from depression or anxiety.

Using a survey of more than 22,000 adults, researchers found that women, who were paid less than their male counterparts with similar ages, work experience, family status, and education, were 2.5 times as likely to suffer from major depression and four times as likely to experience anxiety. Women who made as much as men or more than men had about the same levels of depression and anxiety as men with similar ages, work experience, family status, and education.

Katherine KeyesKatherine Keyes, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia and senior author of the article, stated that “while it is commonly believed that gender differences in depression and anxiety are biologically rooted, these results suggest that such differences are much more socially constructed than previously thought, indicating that gender disparities in psychiatric disorders are malleable and arise from unfair treatment.”

Dr. Keyes notes that policies such as paid parental leave, affordable childcare, and flexible work schedules may ameliorate some of this burden. “Greater attention to the fundamental mechanisms that perpetuate wage disparities is needed,” says Dr. Keyes, “not only because it is unjust, but so that we may understand and be able to intervene to reduce subsequent health risks and disparities.”

Dr. Keyes is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. She holds a master of public health degree and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

The study, “Unequal Depression for Equal Work? How the Wage Gap Explains Gendered Disparities in Mood Disorders,” was published in the January issue of Social Science & Medicine. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply