Family status and later-life depression among older adults in urban Latin America and the Caribbean

Nekehia T. Quashie, Flavia C.D. Andrade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Rapid fertility declines in Latin American and Caribbean countries since the 1960s have contributed to smaller family sizes among the current cohorts of older adults. This may have mental health implications in these societies as the family unit is highly valued as a source of social support. Utilising data from the 2000 Survey of Health, Well-being and Aging in Latin America and the Caribbean (SABE), this study examines the association between parental status, marital status and the likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms among adults 60 years and older in seven cities within Latin America and the Caribbean (N = 9,756): Buenos Aires, Bridgetown, São Paulo, Santiago, Havana, Mexico City and Montevideo. Results from multivariate logistic regressions indicate that parental status is not significantly associated with depressive symptoms. Nonetheless, unmarried older adults, both those living alone and those living with others, are more vulnerable to experiencing depressive symptoms than their married counterparts. Marriage is especially protective for older adults in Havana and Montevideo. Older adults' perceived income adequacy significantly moderates the relationship between marital status and depressive symptoms. Other significant covariates, such as experiencing disability and comorbidity, showed positive associations with depressive symptoms. While families may still represent a critical component for the mental health of older adults, broader investments in health across the lifespan are needed to improve individual psychological wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-261
Number of pages29
JournalAgeing and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Caribbean
  • Latin America
  • ageing
  • children
  • depression
  • income adequacy
  • marriage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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