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Work and mental health: the case of older men living in underprivileged communities in Lebanon


This paper examines the association between being in paid work and depression among older adults in three poor urban communities in Beirut, Lebanon. In view of the rapid ageing of Lebanon's population and the growing number of older persons, the deteriorating economic conditions and the lack of pension systems, paid work is an important source of income for older people and deserves special attention. The sample was 328 men aged 65 or more years. Depression was assessed using the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale. The exposure variable was working for pay at the time of the survey, and the covariates included socio-demographic measures, health characteristics, financial resources and social capital. Around one-third of the men were working, and approximately the same fraction were depressed. Adjusted data showed a protective effect of work on depression (odds ratio 0.50, 95 per cent confidence interval 0.25–0.96). This study is an eye opener on the circumstances of disadvantaged older people in a relatively low-income Eastern Mediterranean Region country, a topic rarely addressed in this area of the world. Old age is viewed as a decline in abilities while in reality many older adults are still able and ready to work. Social policies for older people should promote opportunities to work, not only pension schemes.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Abla Mehio Sibai, 215 VanDyck Building, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, American University of Beirut, PO Box 11-0236, Riad El-Solh Street, Beirut 1107-202, Lebanon E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
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