Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 9
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Kelley-Moore, Jessica A. Cagney, Kathleen A. Skarupski, Kimberly A. Everson-Rose, Susan A. and Mendes de Leon, Carlos F. 2016. Do Local Social Hierarchies Matter for Mental Health? A Study of Neighborhood Social Status and Depressive Symptoms in Older Adults. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, Vol. 71, Issue. 2, p. 369.

    Krause, Neal 2015. Race, Religious Involvement, and Feelings of Personal Control in Middle and Late Life. Archive for the Psychology of Religion, Vol. 37, Issue. 1, p. 14.

    Toma, Anna Hamer, Mark and Shankar, Aparna 2015. Associations between neighborhood perceptions and mental well-being among older adults. Health & Place, Vol. 34, p. 46.

    Wright, Emily M. Pinchevsky, Gillian M. Benson, Michael L. and Radatz, Dana L. 2015. Intimate Partner Violence and Subsequent Depression: Examining the Roles of Neighborhood Supportive Mechanisms. American Journal of Community Psychology, Vol. 56, Issue. 3-4, p. 342.

    Blair, Alexandra Ross, Nancy A. Gariepy, Geneviève and Schmitz, Norbert 2014. How do neighborhoods affect depression outcomes? A realist review and a call for the examination of causal pathways. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Vol. 49, Issue. 6, p. 873.

    Marshall, Alan Jivraj, Stephen Nazroo, James Tampubolon, Gindo and Vanhoutte, Bram 2014. Does the level of wealth inequality within an area influence the prevalence of depression amongst older people?. Health & Place, Vol. 27, p. 194.

    NYMAN, SAMUEL R. and VICTOR, CHRISTINA R. 2014. Use of personal call alarms among community-dwelling older people. Ageing and Society, Vol. 34, Issue. 01, p. 67.

    Tomaszewski, Wojtek 2013. Living Environment, Social Participation and Wellbeing in Older Age: The Relevance of Housing and Local Area Disadvantage. Journal of Population Ageing, Vol. 6, Issue. 1-2, p. 119.

    Windsor, T. D. Fiori, K. L. and Crisp, D. A. 2012. Personal and Neighborhood Resources, Future Time Perspective, and Social Relations in Middle and Older Adulthood. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, Vol. 67, Issue. 4, p. 423.


Neighbourhood social environment and depressive symptoms in mid-life and beyond

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 20 January 2011

This prospective study examines the relationship between aspects of the neighbourhood social environment and subsequent depressive symptoms in over 7,500 participants of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). Neighbourhood social environment at baseline was operationalised using four items capturing social cohesion and three items capturing perceived safety and associations with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) at two-year follow-up were assessed. Friendship quality and personal sense of control were tested as mediators of this relationship using structural equation modelling. Neighbourhood social cohesion was found to be associated with reporting fewer depressive symptoms independent of demographic and socioeconomic factors and baseline depressive symptoms. Friendship quality and sense of control mediated this association. The study highlights that greater personal sense of control, higher quality friendships and fewer depressive symptoms are found in neighbourhoods seen to be characterised by higher social cohesion.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Mai Stafford, MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, 33 Bedford Place, London WC1B 5JU, UK. E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

A. M. Almedom 2005. Social capital and mental health: an interdisciplinary review of primary evidence. Social Science and Medicine, 61, 5, 943–64.

C. Aneshensel and C. A. Sucoff 1996. The neighbourhood context of adolescent mental health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 37, 4, 293310.

F. Baum 2000. Social capital, economic capital and power: further issues for a public health agenda. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 54, 6, 409–10.

L. F. Berkman , T. Glass , I. Brissette and T. E. Seeman 2000. From social integration to health: Durkheim in the new millennium. Social Science and Medicine, 51, 6, 843–57.

C. Cannuscio , J. Block and I. Kawachi 2003. Social capital and successful aging: the role of senior housing. Annals of Internal Medicine, 139, 5, 395–99.

L. Carstensen , D. Isaacowitz and S. T. Charles 1999. Taking time seriously: a theory of socioemotional selectivity. American Psychologist, 54, 3, 165–81.

E. Castro-Costa , M. Dewey , R. Stewart , S. Banerjee , F. Huppert , C. Mendonca-Lima , C. Bula , F. Reisches , J. Wancata , K. Ritchie , M. Tsolaki , R. Mateos and M. Prince 2007. Prevalence of depressive symptoms and syndromes in later life in ten European countries: the SHARE study. British Journal of Psychiatry, 191, 5, 393401.

K. L. Chou 2005. Everyday competence and depressive symptoms: social support and sense of control as mediators or moderators? Aging & Mental Health, 9, 2, 177–83.

M. J. De Silva , K. McKenzie , T. Harpham and S. R. A. Huttly 2005. Social capital and mental illness: a systematic review. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 59, 8, 619–27.

A. Ellaway , S. Macintyre and A. Kearns 2001. Perceptions of place and health in socially contrasting neighborhoods. Urban Studies, 38, 12, 2299–316.

A. Ellaway , G. Morris , J. Curtice , C. Robertson , G. Allardice and R. Robertson 2009. Associations between health and different types of environmental incivility: a Scotland-wide study. Public Health, 123, 11, 708–13.

M. Elliott 2000. The stress process in neighborhood context. Health and Place, 6, 4, 287–99.

L. Fyrand , T. Moum , A. Finset and A. Glennas 2002. The impact of disability and disease duration on social support of women with rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 25, 3, 251–68.

P. Hawe and A. Shiell 2000. Social capital and health promotion: a review. Social Science and Medicine, 51, 6, 7185.

J. S. House , K. R. Landis and D. Umberson 1988. Social relationships and health. Science, 241, 4865, 540–4.

L. Hu and P. M. Bentler 1999. Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1, 155.

M. Hyde , R. D. Wiggins , P. Higgs and D. B. Blane 2003. A measure of quality of life in early old age: the theory, development and properties of a needs satisfaction model (CASP-19). Aging & Mental Health, 7, 3, 186–94.

I. Kawachi and L. F. Berkman 2001 a. Social ties and mental health. Journal of Urban Health, 78, 3, 458–67.

C. P. Keeton , M. Perry-Jenkins and A. G. Sayer 2008. Sense of control predicts depressive and anxious symptoms across the transition to parenthood. Journal of Family Psychology, 22, 2, 212–21.

D. Kim 2008. Blues from the neighborhood? Neighborhood characteristics and depression. Epidemiologic Reviews, 30, 1, 101–17.

N. Krause 2006. Neighborhood deterioration, social skills, and social relationships in late life. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 62, 3, 185207.

M. P. Lawton 1990. Residential environment and self-directedness among older people. American Psychologist, 45, 5, 638–40.

N. Lin , X. Ye and W. M. Ensel 1999. Social support and depressed mood: a structural analysis. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 40, 4, 344359.

J. Lynch , P. Due , C. Muntaner and G. Davey Smith 2000. Social capital – is it a good investment strategy for public health?. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 54, 6, 404–8.

C. Mair , A. V. Diez Roux , M. Shen , S. Shea , T. Seeman , S. Echeverria and E. S. O'Meara 2009. Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of neighborhood cohesion and stressors with depressive symptoms in the multiethnic study of atherosclerosis. Annals of Epidemiology, 19, 1, 4957.

K. R. Martin , J. Shreffler , B. Schoster and L. F. Callahan 2010. Associations of perceived neighborhood environment on health status outcomes in persons with arthritis. Arthritis Care & Research. Available online at [Accessed 13 October 2010].

A. McMunn , J. Nazroo , M. Wahrendorf , E. Breeze and P. Zaninotto 2009. Participation in socially productive activities, reciprocity and wellbeing in later life: Baseline results in England. Ageing & Society, 29, 5, 765–82.

P. Phongsavan , T. Chey , A. Bauman , R. Brooks and D. Silove 2006. Social capital, socio-economic status and psychological distress among Australian adults. Social Science and Medicine, 63, 10, 2546–61.

C. Pollack and O. von dem Knesebeck 2004. Social capital and health among the aged: comparisons between the United States and Germany. Health & Place, 10, 4, 383–91.

A. Portes 1998. Social capital: its origins and applications in modern sociology. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 1, 124.

M. E. Rauktis , G. F. Koeske and O. Tereshko 1995. Negative social interactions, distress, and depression among those caring for a seriously and persistently mentally ill relative. American Journal of Community Psychology, 23, 2, 279–99.

J. Rodin 1986. Aging and health: Effects of the sense of control. Science, 233, 1271–6.

C. G. Roman and A. Chalfin 2008. Fear of walking outdoors. A multilevel ecologic analysis of crime and disorder. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 34, 4, 306–12.

C. E. Ross 2000. Neighborhood disadvantage and adult depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 41, 2, 177–87.

C. E. Ross and J. Mirowsky 2006. Sex differences in the effect of education on depression: resource multiplication or resource substitution? Social Science and Medicine, 63, 5, 1400–13.

R. L. Rubinstein and P. A. Parmelee 1992. Attachment to place and the representation of the life course by the elderly. In I. Altman and S. M. Low (eds) Place Attachment. Plenum, New York, 139–63.

R. J. Sampson 1988. Local friendship ties and community attachment in mass society: a multi-level systematic model. American Sociological Review, 53, 5, 766–79.

R. J. Sampson , S. W. Raudenbush and F. Earls 1997. Neighborhoods and violent crime: a multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science, 277, 5328, 918–24.

T. Scharf , C. Phillipson and A. Smith 2003. Older people's perceptions of the neighbourhood: evidence from socially deprived urban areas. Sociological Research Online, 8, 4. Available online at [Accessed 14 June 2009].

R. M. Scheffler , T. T. Brown and J. K. Rice 2007. The role of social capital in reducing non-specific psychological distress: the importance of controlling for omitted variable bias. Social Science and Medicine, 65, 4, 842–54.

A. Shah 1992. The burden of psychiatric disorder in primary care. International Review of Psychiatry, 4, 33, 243–50.

D. Shenk , K. Kuwahara and D. Zablotsky 2004. Older women's attachments to their home and possessions. Journal of Aging Studies, 18, 2, 157–69.

M. Stafford , T. Chandola and M. Marmot 2007. Fear of crime is associated with poor mental health and limited physical functioning. American Journal of Public Health, 97, 11, 2076–81.

S. Stansfeld and B. Candy 2006. Psychosocial work environment and mental health – a meta-analytic review. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 32, 6, 443–62.

S. A. Stansfeld , R. Fuhrer and M. J. Shipley 1998. Types of social support as predictors of psychiatric morbidity in a cohort of British civil servants (Whitehall II study). Psychological Medicine, 28, 4, 881–92.

A. Steptoe , A. Tsuda , Y. Tanaka and J. Wardle 2007. Depressive symptoms, socio-economic background, sense of control, and cultural factors in university students from 23 countries. International Journal of Behavioural Medicine, 14, 2, 97107.

S. Szreter and M. Woolcock 2004. Health by association? Social capital, social theory, and the political economy of public health. International Journal of Epidemiology, 33, 4, 650–67.

C. L. Turvey , S. K. Schultz , L. Beglinger and D. M. Klein 2009. A longitudinal community-based study of chronic illness, cognitive and physical function, and depression. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 17, 8, 632–41.

C. Turvey , R. Wallace and R. Herzog 1999. The relation between a revised CES-D measure of depressive symptoms and a DSM-based measure of major depressive episodes in the elderly. International Psychogeriatrics, 11, 2, 139–48.

R. K. Van der Horst and S. McLaren 2005. Social relationships as predictors of depression and suicidal ideation in older adults. Aging and Mental Health, 9, 6, 517–25.

M. Wen , C. R. Browning and K. A. Cagney 2003. Poverty, affluence, and income inequality: neighborhood economic structure and its implications for health. Social Science and Medicine, 57, 5, 843–60.

Y. Xue , T. Leventhal , J. Brooks-Gunn and F. J. Earls 2005. Neighborhood residence and mental health problems of 5- to 11-year-olds. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 5, 554–63.

Y. Yang 2006. How does functional disability affect depressive symptoms in late life? The role of perceived social support and psychological resources. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 47, 4, 355–72.

A. F. Young , A. Russell and J. R. Powers 2004. The sense of belonging to a neighbourhood: can it be measured and is it related to health and well being in older women? Social Science and Medicine, 59, 12, 2627–37.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *