Gender-based wage gap causing depression in women: Study

Gender-based wage gap causing depression in women: Study

The United States is experiencing a new cause of depression among the lowly paid female counterparts, apparently due to the wage gap when compared to the salaries of men. As per a study by Columbia University, New York published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, “Women who earn less than men are four times as likely to develop an anxiety disorder and two and a half times more likely to suffer from diagnosed depression.”

Though several explanations have been put forth by psychologists regarding the cause of depression, researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health reveal that the potential underlying discrimination and biases towards men may be the main reason behind symptoms of depressive behavior portrayed by working women.

Anxious and depressed over lower salary

The glaring gender disparity that separates the men from the women and makes the latter prone to injustice is their lower earnings as compared to men despite having the equivalent education and experience. Jonathan Platt, a research assistant from Columbia University, said, “The social processes that sort women into certain jobs, compensate them less than equivalent male counterparts, and create gender disparities in domestic labor have material and psychosocial consequences.”

The findings based on data from a 2001-2002 U.S. population representative sample of 22,581 working adults aged between 30 and 65 also revealed that the odds of major depression among women, with income lower than their male counterparts, were nearly 2.5 times higher than men with odds of anxiety disorder being four times higher.

Putting rules in place

Though the concept of gender inequality is gradually being done away in the U.S. with the government passing necessary legislations and formulating rules to create an atmosphere advocating equal rights for all, instances of discrimination still continue.

The U.S. Census Bureau states that the median women’s earnings is 79 percent of the median income of men. However, it has been unable to point out the exact reasons behind the unexplainable wage gap. “Even with executive-level occupations, clearly with a high enough income to avoid material poverty, we saw the relationship between the wage gap and odds of mental health,” Platt added.

Though there may be many other factors at play to explain the level of depression and anxiety disorder, women evaluate the difference in pay as a broad indicator of discrimination at the workplace.

Seeking help for mental problems

The workplace bias is difficult to be detected and judged; it can only be experienced. But it may silently lead to depression and/or anxiety disorder.

If you or your loved one is going through a phase of depression or displaying symptoms of anxiety disorder due to wage issues as a consequence of structural gender inequality in the work force, you may seek help from the California Mental Health Helpline. Call now at 855-559-3923 for more information.