Educational attainment and employment play major roles in decreasing depression

The one critical aspect many countries fail to realise is that education is the engine behind countries. What society knows and how they implement it is largely based on how they received it or if they ever received it in the first place.

When looking at human capital, education and health are always in the spotlight. To better understand this idea I looked at the ‘Education at a Glance 2017’, a report by the OECD. In this report, the following was noted:

Education systems can also help reduce depression, as higher educational attainment usually leads to better labour market outcomes, such as lower unemployment rates and higher earnings, in turn linked with lower prevalence of anxiety and depression (Bjelland et al., 2008; Ross and Mirowsky, 2006)  

There were three significant findings in the report:

  • Estonia and Sweden have the smallest difference in self-reported depression between levels of educational attainment.
  • Among European countries, in Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, 25-44 year-olds tend to have a higher prevalence of self-reported depression than the 45-64 year-olds, regardless of their educational attainment.
  • Earning levels partly explain the links between self-reported depression and educational attainment. The difference in self-reported depression between educational attainment levels decreases when analysing the EHIS data within the same level of earnings.

According to the report, self-reported depression is particularly high among adults with below upper secondary education. Four­ percentage points higher on average than among adults with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education.

On average women report higher levels of depression than men, but self-reported depression decreases more steeply for women than men as they acquire further qualifications (OECD, 2016a).

The report shows that regardless of age, gender or labour market status, self-reported depression declines as educational attainment increases.

What was also evident was that self-reported depression also decreases when adults are employed as opposed to unemployed or inactive.

The report also points some interesting insights which are usually ignored by governments:

Being unemployed or inactive increases the risk of depression since adults in this situation may be more likely to experience loneliness and may tend to worry more about money. Having a higher educational level provides people with better tools to deal with this risk factor.

Better countries are subject to better societies, better societies are subject to a collection of better individuals and better individuals are subject to what they know and how they use it. 

About Mduduzi Mbiza 111 Articles
Mduduzi Mbiza is a creator. Author of the book, ‘Human Education: The Voyage of Discovery’.