Women with less education than their mothers risk poor mental health

January 9, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Women with significantly lower levels of education than their parents are at higher risk of poor mental health, a new University of Queensland study has found.

UQ School of researchers, Dr Leigh Tooth and Professor Gita Mishra found the greater difference between parents, in particular a mother's education and her daughter's, the more chance the daughter will experience depression and other .

The researchers studied 5,619 women from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women's Health, aged 31–36 years, measuring against the educational mobility – or differences – between women and their parents.

Dr Tooth said the study revealed, in comparison, daughters with an equivalent or higher level of education to their parents had better mental health.

"There was also an association between a father having a higher than his daughter, and her risk of poor mental health, however the mother-daughter association was stronger," Dr Tooth said.

She said a number of reasons could possibly explain the links.

"Prior research has found that a mother's education may have more impact on the outcomes of her children because she tends to be the primary in the pre-school years," she said.

"The more highly educated a mother is, the more likely she is to spend direct time with her children and provide them with an academically and educationally enriching care environment.

"Instances where daughters have poor mental health and highly educated mothers may possibly reflect pre-existing preventing the daughter from achieving academically.

"It may also reflect the underlying parent-daughter relationship, with previous research showing that the quality of same-sex relationships (i.e. mother–daughter, father–son) to have more influence on mental health outcomes in the offspring than the quality of different sex relationships."

Researchers also found a surprisingly high percentage of women did not know both parents' education levels.

"This could be because of family dysfunction or break-up, lots of moving or job changes, or illness," Dr Tooth said.

"It would be interesting to investigate this issue more deeply."

Researchers hope study findings may help health practitioners to better tailor health messages and interventions when working with women at risk of .

This study has been published in the journal Quality of Life and can be found at link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11136-012-0310-8

Explore further: Mothers are the most responsible in transferring of sexist attitudes

Related Stories

Recommended for you

How can I tell if she's lying?

November 27, 2015

Sarcasm, white lies and teasing can be difficult to identify for those with certain disorders – new video inventory developed at McGill may help

Serious research into what makes us laugh

November 24, 2015

More complex jokes tend to be funnier but only up to a point, Oxford researchers have found. Jokes that are too complicated tend to lose the audience.

Psychologists dispute continuum theory of sexual orientation

November 19, 2015

Washington State University researchers have established a categorical distinction between people who are heterosexual and those who are not. By analyzing the reported sexual behavior, identity and attraction of more than ...

Babies have logical reasoning before age one, study finds

November 18, 2015

Human infants are capable of deductive problem solving as early as 10 months of age, a new study by psychologists at Emory University and Bucknell finds. The journal Developmental Science is publishing the research, showing ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.