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Although a number of studies have uncovered relationships between parental capital and the manifestation of depression in their children, little is known about the mechanisms that undergird the relationships. This study investigates the intergenerational effects of the cultural and economic capitals of South Korean parents on depressive symptoms in their adult children and the degree to which the capitals of the adult children explain them.
We employed nationally representative cross-sectional survey data from the 2006 Korea Welfare Panel Study. A sample of 11,576 adults over thirty years of age was used to investigate the intergenerational production of depression in South Korea. We applied binary logistic regression modelling to the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D).
Parental education (institutionalized cultural capital) manifested an independent and statistically significant inverse association with depressive symptoms [OR = 1.680 (95% CI: 1.118-2.523) for men; OR = 2.146 (95% CI: 1484–3.102) for women]. Childhood economic circumstances (economic capital) had an independent and statistically significant inverse association with depressive symptoms among adult women only [OR = 2.009 (95% CI: 1.531-2.635)]. The education of the adult children themselves was strongly associated with depressive symptoms in the expected direction [OR = 4.202 (95% CI: 2.856-6.181) for men; OR = 4.058 (95% CI: 2.824-5.830)] and the most of the association between parental capitals and depressive symptoms was explained by the educational attainment of the children. Receipt of monetary inheritance from parents had a weak but statistically significant association with depression among men [OR = 1.248 (95% CI: 1.041-1.496)] but was unrelated to depression among women. A large portion of the association between respondent education and depressive symptoms was explained by household income. Finally, childhood economic circumstances were associated with depressive symptoms among women over and above the cultural and economic capitals held by the women themselves [OR = 1.608 (95% CI: 2.08-2.139)].
Our study illuminates the importance of the intergenerational transmission of capitals for the development of depressive symptoms among adults in South Korea.