IZA DP No. 7586: Peer Groups, Employment Status and Mental Well-being among Older Adults in Ireland
published as 'Peer Groups, Employment Status and Depressive Symptoms among Older Adults in Ireland' in: Journal of Population Ageing, 2014, 7 (1), 43-54
Research has shown that employment status, such as being unemployed or retired, can be related to well-being. In addition, the direction and size of these relationships can be influenced by the employment status of one's peer group. For example, it has been shown that the well-being of the unemployed tends to be higher for those living in high-unemployment areas compared to the unemployed living in low-unemployment areas. In this paper, we explore whether such employment peer effects impact upon the well-being of older workers. This is an important issue in the context of promoting longer working lives. If the well-being of older people in employment is lowered by low employment levels in their peer group, then sustaining high employment among older workers will be more difficult. We use data from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) which is a nationally representative sample of people aged fifty and over and living in Ireland, collected between 2009 and 2011. Employment peer effects are proxied using the peer group non-employment rate where a peer is defined as someone in the same age-group and region and of the same gender. We find that for the employed, an increase in peer non-employment is associated with an increase in reported depressive symptoms, whereas for those not employed such an increase is associated with a decrease in reported depressive symptoms. However, these findings hold mainly for men.