Inequalities in the economic consequences of depression and anxiety in Europe: a systematic scoping review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Depression and anxiety are associated with adverse outcomes in educational achievements and economic performances. Moreover, the prevalence of these disorders is unequally distributed among different population subgroups. Our objective is to investigate whether the economic consequences of depression and anxiety differ between population subgroups of different gender, socioeconomic status (SES), ethnicity and age, in Europe.

METHODS: A systematic scoping literature review was performed to identify studies where exposure to depression or anxiety was identified at baseline and consequences in education, sickness absence, disability pension, unemployment and income/earnings were measured at follow-up.

RESULTS: Seventeen articles were included in this review and most of these were conducted in the Nordic countries. The consequences of depression and anxiety were stratified by gender in most of the articles. However, only in a few studies, the findings were stratified by SES, age and ethnicity. The negative consequences of depression in educational performance, disability pension and income are larger for men compared to women. Moreover, low SES individuals have more depression- and anxiety-related absence from work than high SES individuals.

CONCLUSION: Our findings imply that the economic consequences of depression differ between population subgroups in Europe. This could have an impact on social stratification, shifting people who experience mental ill-health to lower SES groups or reinforcing an already disadvantaged position. More research is needed on unequal economic consequences of depression and anxiety in different population subgroups in Europe.


External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Umeå University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-777
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Early online date2019 Jul 13
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jul 13
Publication categoryResearch