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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2018 Jun 14;73(5):860-869. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbw101.

Perceived Age Discrimination: A Precipitator or a Consequence of Depressive Symptoms?

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Louis and Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.



The main purpose of the study was to examine a bidirectional temporal relationship between perceived age discrimination and depressive symptoms. A secondary goal was to examine whether the negative effects of perceived age discrimination on one's depressive symptoms are stronger among respondents older than 70 years old, compared with respondents between the ages of 51 and 70.


The Health and Retirement Study is a U.S. nationally representative sample of individuals over the age of 50 and their spouse of any age. A cross-lagged model was estimated to examine the reciprocal associations of depressive symptoms and perceived age discrimination, controlling for age, gender, education, ethnicity, marital status, employment status, satisfaction with financial status, number of medical conditions, mobility, strength and fine motor skills, and memory functioning.


The baseline model for the overall sample resulted in adequate fit indices: CFI = .945, TLI = .940, RMSEA = .024 (90% CI = .023, .025). The cross-lagged effect of perceived age discrimination on depressive symptoms was nonsignificant (B [SE] = -.01 [.04], p = .82), whereas the cross-lagged effect of depressive symptoms on perceived age discrimination was small, but significant (B [SE] = .04 [.02], p = .03). This implies that higher levels of depressive symptoms precede a greater likelihood of perceived age discrimination, net of sociodemographic and clinical variables. The cross-lagged effects did not vary according to age group (51-70 vs >70 years old).


The subjective nature of perceived age discrimination is discussed.

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