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Author: Hartley, David
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Morris, Lisa
Loux, Stephenie
Ziller, Erika
Hartley, David
Rural-Urban Differences in Work Patterns Among Adults with Depressive Symptoms
Working Paper No. 38, Maine Rural Health Research Center, Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine, March 2008.
Cohort(s): NLSY79
Publisher: Muskie School of Public Services
Keyword(s): Depression (see also CESD); Educational Attainment; Health, Mental/Psychological; Insurance, Health; Residence; Rural Areas; Rural/Urban Differences; Stress; Work Histories

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

Background. Mental illness can be a debilitating condition, making it difficult to fulfill many of life's roles, including that of wage earner. Whether resulting from job-related stress, social or environmental stressors, or other factors, sub-acute mental distress may pose temporary or long-term impairment to role functions, including the ability to earn a living. In rural areas, several factors may exacerbate the threat to normal role functioning posed by mental health problems. Small employers are less likely to have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that can respond to such sub-diagnostic problems, and are less likely to offer a mental health insurance benefit. With or without insurance, it is more difficult to find a mental health provider in rural areas, and there is some evidence that rural residents may be less likely to seek such services, due to stigma and fear that their privacy will not be protected. In addition, the job market in rural areas may further exacerbate the problem, with lower wages, fewer job alternatives, and reduced ability to accommodate the special needs of an employee in distress, due to having a smaller, less diversified job market.

Despite the importance to both workers and employers of understanding the impact of mental distress on work patterns, there are no studies to date that have examined this from a rural perspective. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), a nationally representative survey of adults, this project addresses the issue of poor mental health among young to middle-career rural residents and how their employment may be affected. Specifically, we investigate how depressive symptoms affect employment patterns, and the extent to which such effects differ by rural and urban residence.

Findings. Our analysis follows a cohort sample from 1992 through 2004, although the specific findings presented in this paper are based on the 1992 survey data. The sixteen percent of our sample identified as rural differ from the urban sample in that they are more likely to be married, have less education, are less likely to be black or Hispanic, and less likely to have health insurance. For both urban and rural subjects, individuals with depressive symptoms work less than those who are not depressed as indicated by annual weeks worked (42.7 vs. 46.3, p<.001), annual hours worked (1781.6 vs. 1973.0, p<.001), and percent not working in the past year (19.6 vs. 10.5, p < .001). However, our multivariate analysis finds that depressed rural residents have no more difficulty maintaining employment than the urban depressed.

Bibliography Citation
Morris, Lisa, Stephenie Loux, Erika Ziller and David Hartley. "Rural-Urban Differences in Work Patterns Among Adults with Depressive Symptoms." Working Paper No. 38, Maine Rural Health Research Center, Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine, March 2008.