Social participation and depression in middle-aged and senior citizens in China

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Xiaoqun Chen
Xiaoli Zhu
Cite this article:  Chen, X., & Zhu, X. (2022). Social participation and depression in middle-aged and senior citizens in China. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 50(1), e10853.


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We examined the effects of social activities on depression in middle-aged and senior men and women in China. We classified social activities into informal and formal categories; the former require more intimate and intensive participation, while the latter require less. Participants were 8,610 respondents aged 45 years and above, whose data were extracted from the 8-year Chinese Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (2011–2018) and analyzed using a fixed-effects regression model. The results provide evidence that informal social activities had a negative relationship with depression in both men and women, with the effect being stronger in men than in women. We have provided a framework within which relationships between these types of social activities and depression in men and women can be understood. The results bolster the activity theory of aging, which has implications for mental health practitioners.

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