Perceived group discrimination based on one's gender and the gender gap in depression in Europe

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Sarah Van de Velde, Katrijn Delaruelle, Nina Van Eekert, Piet Bracke


Background: Gender discrimination is one of the most significant psychosocial stressors. This study examined whether the relationship between perceived group discrimination against one's gender (PGD) and the gender gap depression varied by societal levels of gender inequality. Methods: The current study used data from three waves (2006, 2012 and 2014) of the European Social Survey and applied multilevel linear regression methods. We assessed depressive feelings through the eight-item version of the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. The sample contained 71,419 respondents living in 22 countries. Results: While only a small percentage of people were confronted with PGD, this group consistently reported more depressive feelings. PGD had a similar effect on the mental health of men and women, except for men in more gender-egalitarian societies. When confronted with PGD, the latter group reported more depressive feelings in comparison to men in more gender unequal societies. Conclusions: Our research found a strong association between PGD and depression. In addition, this relationship varied by societal levels of gender equality. More pronounced gender equality strengthened this relationship in men. Research that ignores this social context might, therefore, be limited in terms of generalization.

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