Ann Geriatr Med Res 2018; 22(1): 33-39
Contrasting Effects of Spousal Education on Depressive Symptoms Among Korean Middle-Aged and Older Adults
Soong-Nang Jang1, Ichiro Kawachi2
1Red Cross College of Nursing, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea, 2Department of Social Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. CHAN School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
Correspondence to: Soong-Nang Jang, MPH, PhD
Red Cross College of Nursing, Chung-Ang University, 84 Heukseok-ro, Dongjak-gu, Seoul 06974, Korea
Tel: +82-2-820-5806
Received: January 30, 2018; Revised: March 2, 2018; Accepted: March 10, 2018; Published online: March 31, 2018.
© The Korea Geriatrics Society. All rights reserved.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Background: Within marital dyads, we focused on the so-called positive spillover effects of one spousal partner’s educational attainment on the health of the other partner. This study examined the relationship between spousal educational attainment and depressive symptoms in Korean older adults.
Methods: Data were obtained from a sample of marital dyads aged 45 or older (total 6,824 husbands and wives) from the baseline survey of the Korean Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Depressive symptoms were measured by the 10-item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale (CES-D 10). A stepwise actor-partner interdependence model was used to examine the association between own and spousal educational attainment and depressive symptoms, conditioning for covariates.
Results: Among men, we found that their wives’ educational attainment did not influence their mental health, whereas, among women, their depressive symptoms were inversely related to their husbands’ level of schooling. With regard to own education, more-educated men reported lower psychological distress, whereas, among women, there was no overall association. However, in a subset of Korean women with the highest level of household income, higher educational attainment was associated with more depressive symptoms.
Conclusion: Our findings underscore the need to incorporate the cultural context in examining the spillover effects of education on health within marriage.
Keywords: Depressive symptoms, Marital status, Educational level, Dyad analysis

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