How to Understand the Well-Being Gap between Liberals and Conservatives

Musa al-Gharbi:

In a recent essay for Social Science & Medicine–Mental Health, epidemiologist Catherine Gimbrone and coauthors identified a significant gap in depressive attitudes between liberal and conservative teens. This gap was present in all years observed in the study (2005–18). It grew significantly starting in 2012, however, as depressive affect unilaterally spiked among liberals. Three years later, conservatives also began reporting increases in depression—although that rise tapered off relatively quickly while the increases among liberals continued.

Liberal girls tended to be significantly more depressed than boys, particularly after 2011. However, ideological differences swamped gender differences. Indeed, liberal boys were significantly more likely to report depression than conservatives of either gender. The authors also found that the more educated a teen’s family was, the more likely the young people were to be depressed, and the more dramatic their rise in depression was after 2012.