Family income and youths' symptoms of depression and anxiety: A longitudinal study of the French GAZEL Youth cohort

Maria Melchior, Jean François Chastang, Vera Walburg, Louise Arseneault, Cédric Galéra, Eric Fombonne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background: It is not clear whether socioeconomic inequalities with regard to depression and anxiety are present in adolescence and young adulthood. We tested the hypothesis that in the community, youths growing up in families with low income have elevated rates of such psychological difficulties. Methods: We used data from participants of the GAZEL Youth study, a French community-based cohort assessed in 1991 and 1999 (n=941 youths, 4-18 years of age at baseline). Measures of family income and youths' symptoms of depression and anxiety (assessed using the ASEBA family of instruments) were obtained from parents and youths at study baseline and follow-up. Covariates included family characteristics (parental divorce, parental unemployment or labor force exit, parental health difficulties including psychopathology and the quality of family relations) and youths' characteristics (sex, age, stressful life events, history of internalizing and externalizing problems). Results: Youths from families with low income during the study period had elevated odds of symptoms of depression and anxiety at follow-up (compared to youths from families with intermediate/high income, age-adjusted OR: 1.74, 95% CI 1.17-2.57; fully adjusted OR: 1.94, 95% CI: 1.27-2.97). In particular, the likelihood of psychological difficulties was elevated among youths from families that experienced decreasing and persistently low income over time (fully adjusted ORs, respectively: 2.44, 95% CI 1.24-4.81 and 1. 83, 95% 1.10-3.06). Conclusions: Clinicians need to be aware that youths growing up in low-income families in the community may be at risk of depression and anxiety during the period of transition to adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1095-1103
Number of pages9
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescents
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • epidemiology
  • socioeconomic position
  • young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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