The timing and duration of depressive symptoms from adolescence to young adulthood and young adults' NEET status: the role of educational attainment

Karin Veldman*, Sijmen A. Reijneveld, Johan Hviid Andersen, Trine Nohr Winding, Merete Labriola, Thomas Lund, Ute Bultmann

*Corresponding author for this work

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PURPOSE: Depressive symptoms are negatively associated with labour market outcomes but whether the timing and duration of depressive symptoms or educational attainment (EA) affect NEET (Neither in Employment, Education, nor Training) is unknown. Therefore, this study aims to examine the effects of timing and duration of depressive symptoms in adolescence and the moderating and mediating role of EA on NEET in young adulthood.

METHODS: Data were used from 1512 participants in the Vestliv Study, a Danish prospective cohort study. Depressive symptoms were measured at age 14, 18 and 21. EA at age 21 and NEET at age 23 were derived from national registers. Logistic regression analyses and a 4-way decomposition approach were applied.

RESULTS: Among boys, depressive symptoms at ages 14 and 21 increased the risk of NEET (OR 1.65, 95% CI 1.00-2.74 and OR 2.20, 95% CI 1.37-3.53). Among girls, this regarded depressive symptoms at ages 18 and 21 (OR 1.76, 95% CI 1.26-2.46 and OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.13-2.22). For the duration of depressive symptoms, among boys any depressive symptoms increased the risk of NEET. Among girls, only persistent depressive symptoms increased the risk of NEET. EA did not mediate or moderate the association between depressive symptoms and NEET.

CONCLUSION: The timing and duration of depressive symptoms in adolescence matter for the association with NEET in young adulthood, with a double burden for those with both depressive symptoms and low EA. The results emphasize the importance of support for those who experience depressive symptoms in the school-to-work transition.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - 13-Aug-2021


  • Depressive symptoms
  • Educational attainment
  • NEET status
  • Adolescence
  • Young adulthood
  • Life course perspective

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