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Aging Ment Health. 2012;16(4):462-71. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2011.651432. Epub 2012 Feb 2.

Effect of social capital and personal autonomy on the incidence of depressive symptoms in the elderly: evidence from a longitudinal study in Mexico.

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  • 1Department of Population Studies, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana, Baja California, México.



To estimate the effect of social capital (SC) and personal autonomy (PA) on the depressive symptoms (DS) in older people living in poverty.


Longitudinal study of elderly participants in the impact evaluation study of a non-contributory pension program in Mexico. For this study we selected the group of older people without significant DS at baseline. PA, SC indicators and covariates were measured at baseline. Using the Geriatric Depression Scale, the incidence of DS was assessed at a follow-up interview after 11 months. The effect of SC and autonomy on the occurrence of DS was estimated by using a multilevel logistic regression model.


Of the various indicators of PA, not being dependent in daily functioning, and being able to read/write were associated with lower risk of DS. A higher level of SC at baseline was associated with lower incidence of DS in women (odds ratio; OR = 0.73, p < 0.01), while for men there was no significant association (OR = 1.04, p = 0.69).


PA and SC proved to be protective factors against the onset of DS in women. For men, only PA was a protective factor. Future studies need to explore in what ways that PA and SC may reduce risk of DS as well as the role of gender differences.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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