Life Course and Cohort Impacts of Education on Depression in Taiwan
A growing body of literature has demonstrated that the impacts of education on physical health vary across the life course and across birth cohorts in Western societies. However, since aging effects and cohort effects are difficult to disentangle empirically, most previous studies have estimated one effect while ignoring the other. In addition, whether the temporal impacts of education can be extended to depression and whether they exist in non-Western societies are much less known. Thus, this study is conducted to elucidate the patterns between education and depression across the life course and across cohorts in Taiwan, by using age-cohort regression models on the sequential cross-sectional data pooled from the Taiwan Social Change Survey and using latent growth curve models on the longitudinal data obtained from the 1989–2003 Survey of Health and Living Status of the Elderly in Taiwan. The main findings are: (1) both approaches consistently indicate a favorable direction of life-course relationship in depression for the well educated within the same cohort. Thus, the age-specific rates of change in depression differ across levels of education in a manner that progressively enlarges the gap in late life, supporting the cumulative advantage hypothesis; (2) the education-based difference in depression is larger and appears earlier for younger cohorts, which is consistent with the rising importance hypothesis; and (3) evidence for the age-as-lever hypothesis appears in the TSCS analyses, but is limited in the latent growth analyses obtained from the elderly panels. The cross-sectional analyses are affected by selective mortality. Thus, the convergence of depression by levels of education in late life may be illusory.