Current Institutional Affiliation
Statistician, Bureau of Justice Statistics, United States Department of Justice

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2011
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Postdoctoral Research Trainee, Center on Aging at NORC, University of Chicago
Cross-National Comparisons of the Effects of Social Support on Depressive Symptoms among Older Women and Men in the U.S. and Japan

Cross-national research on gender and aging has discussed a persistent gender gap in depressive symptoms among elders, indicating that women report more frequent symptoms than men. In light of recent attention given to both depression and elder care issues in a global context, this research examines the prevalence of depressive symptoms among elder men and women in the United States and Japan. Both nations are facing complications related to aging populations and have similar economic foundations, educational systems and representative governments. Yet the cultural underpinnings of household arrangements and family support obligations are distinct. The analyses use data from the Nihon University Japanese Longitudinal Study of Aging (NUJLSOA) and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to analyze the conditions resulting in the expression of depressive symptoms. One prominent cultural difference between nations is the persistence of intergenerational coresidence among elders and younger generations in Japan, despite more recent shifts in preference towards independent living. This research posits that changing attitudes concerning filial obligations will result in more frequent depressive symptoms among Japanese women due to increased instances of conflict between coresiding elder women and daughters-in-law. Next, the research hypothesizes reductions in this baseline gender gap in depressive symptoms over time due to elder men transitioning to retirement, widowhood and disability. The project analyses will be carried out at Nihon University in Japan and the Center on the Demography and Economics of Aging at the University of Chicago, from September 1, 2012 through September 1, 2013. On-site advisement from the directors of the NUJLSOA has been previously secured for the Japan-based portion of the research. Additional support is currently being sought from academic and professional agencies in the United States and Japan.