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

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Objectives 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. Methods 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. Results 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). Discussion The subjective nature of perceived age discrimination is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)860-869
Number of pages10
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - 14 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected].


The Health and Retirement Study is supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA U01AG009740) and the Social Security Administration.

FundersFunder number
National Institute on AgingU01AG009740
U.S. Social Security Administration


    • Ageism
    • Discrimination
    • Equality
    • Interpretation
    • Stress model
    • Subjective


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