Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Socio-economic status and mental health – the importance of achieving occupational aspirations

an article by Cay Gjerustad (Norwegian Social Research, Oslo) and Tilmann von Soest (Norwegian Social Research, Oslo and University of Oslo) published in Journal of Youth Studies Volume 15 Issue 7 (November 2012)


This article examines whether achieving occupational aspirations accounts for some of the frequently noted relationship between socioeconomic status and mental health.

The analysis draws on longitudinal survey and register data for 1,644 young people, following the respondents over a 13-year period.

The findings show that aspiration achievement was a significant predictor of symptoms of depression and anxiety. A linear relationship was found for depressive symptoms, indicating that symptoms of depression decreased as aspiration achievement increased.

A curvilinear relationship emerged for anxiety symptoms, indicating increased levels of anxiety symptoms among those in occupational levels substantially lower and higher than their previous expectations.

The results suggest that aspiration achievement qualified as a mediator of the relationship between socioeconomic status and mental health, even though only part of the relationship was explained. The findings point to the importance of obtaining a job that is in accordance with previous expectations.

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