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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2009 Sep;64(5):666-76. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbp026. Epub 2009 May 4.

Later-life mental health in Europe: a country-level comparison.

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Centre for Population Studies, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London, London, WC1B 3DP, UK.



To investigate the influence of country of residence on depression and well-being among older Europeans, after establishing the between-country measurement invariance of both constructs.


We used data from a cross-sectional nationally representative population-based sample of older Europeans, the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). The analysis sample comprised 13,498 older Europeans from nine countries. The EURO-D was used to measure depression, and a well-being outcome was derived from self-report items available in SHARE. The between-country measurement invariance of both mental health outcomes was established using modern psychometric modeling techniques.


After adjustment for demographic characteristics and the presence of chronic illness, Spain was the country scoring highest on depression and Denmark highest on well-being. Optimal mental health was associated with higher educational attainment and being married.


There is considerable between-country heterogeneity in later-life mental health in Europe. The Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, and Austria, do best (low depression/high well-being), followed by Germany and France, whereas residents of Spain, Italy, and Greece report the worst mental health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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