Method: Using Korean Longitudinal Study of Ageing (KLSA), this study examines the relationship between the labor market participation of the aged and depression. The analyses comprise of two main parts: first, the relationship between the two is examined using structural equation modeling (SEM) and second, the relationship is examined between the two age groups, those below 65 years of age and the above using multi-group analysis to see if any differences exist in the level of depression between the age groups.
Results: The model fit of the full path model was considered satisfactory given that the model yielded RMSEA of .057, IFI and CFI values of .964 with chi-square value of 1645.276 (df=76, p<.05). The findings show that variables that were significant in predicting the level of depression among the aged were employment status (ß=-.03), household income(ß =-.04), health status(ß =-.44), education(ß =-.4), marital status(ß =-.11), and participation in social activities(ß =-.12). The result of the multi-group analyses, however, shows that while other socio-demographic variables remain to have the same effect on both the below 65 and above 65 groups, the employment status affects the depression level only in the below 65 age group.
Implications: This finding provides several critical implications for services for the elderly. As employment has been regarded as a crucial protective factor for the individuals' mental wellbeing, this study provides supportive finding that being employed reduces the likelihood of being depressed. However, the finding that being employed does not carry a significant meaning to the psychological wellbeing of those over 65 years of age indicates that the active ageing paradigm promoted may not be effective for the mental wellbeing of Korean aged individuals. Instead, the finding that participation in social activities and self-rated health play significant roles in protecting these individuals from depression shows that services connecting the individuals to various community agencies and organizations for involvement and promoting healthy behaviors may be more effective in protecting their mental health.