American Sociological Association

Variation in the Protective Effect of Higher Education against Depression

Numerous studies document that higher education is associated with a reduced likelihood of depression. The protective effects of higher education, however, are known to vary across population subgroups. This study tests competing theories for who is likely to obtain a greater protective benefit from a college degree against depression through an analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and recently developed methods for analyzing heterogeneous treatment effects involving the use of propensity scores. The analysis examines how the effects of two "treatments" (at least some college education and attaining at least a four-year college degree) on latent depressive symptomology vary by background disadvantage, as indicated by having a low propensity for completing some college or attaining a four-year college degree. Results indicate that people from disadvantaged backgrounds realize a greater protective effect of higher education, either completing some college or attaining a four-year degree, against depressive symptomology than people from advantaged backgrounds. This pattern is more pronounced for people who attain at least a four-year degree than for people who complete at least some college education.

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Authors

Shawn Bauldry

Volume

5

Issue

2

Starting Page

145

Ending Page

161

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