Family and Non-Family Ties and Depressive Feelings during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Evidence from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)

Damiano Uccheddu , University of Louvain (UCLouvain)
Malgorzata Mikucka, University of Louvain (UCLouvain)
Ester L. Rizzi , Université Catholique de Louvain

This study aims at investigating the association between family and non-family ties and changes in depression during the COVID-19 outbreak in a sample of individuals aged 50 and above living in 26 European countries. The analysis is based on data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), including the SHARE COVID-19 Survey fielded in the summer of 2020. The study sample numbered 31,821 individuals aged 50 and older in 26 European countries. We apply multinomial logistic regression models to estimate the probability of being more depressed, less depressed, or about the same since the COVID-19 outbreak. The main independent variable is the Social network (SN) relationship composition, which distinguishes between SN composed by: (a) only family members; (b) only non-family members; (c) both family and non-family members; and (d) “empty” social networks. Our preliminary results indicate a lower probability of being more depressed for individuals belonging to the SN consisting exclusively of family members and for those with an “empty” SN. However, this last group showed also a higher probability of being depressed at the same pre-pandemic level. We did find gender differences in the links between SN and being more depressed since the COVID-19 outbreak. This study could advance the understanding of how family and non-family social network ties can influence mental health during COVID-19 pandemic.

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 Presented in Session 57. Family Dynamics, Work Conditions and Health