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Psychiatry Investig > Volume 20(1); 2023 > Article
Psychiatry Investigation 2023;20(1):35-42.
DOI:    Published online January 25, 2023.
Financial Hardship, Depression, and Self-Esteem: Temporal Analysis Using a Korean Panel Study
Minjae Choi1,2  , Eun Hae Lee2  , Joshua Kirabo Sempungu3  , Yo Han Lee2 
1Institute for Future Public Health, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
2Department of Preventive Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
3Graduate School of Medicine, Ajou University, Suwon, Republic of Korea
Correspondence: Yo Han Lee ,Tel: +82-2-2286-1345, Fax: +82-2-927-7220, Email:
Received: June 8, 2022   Revised: September 16, 2022   Accepted: October 19, 2022   Published online: January 25, 2023
Financial hardship influences depression risk, however, the pathway of the effect of financial hardship on depression and the role of self-esteem remain unclear. This study examined whether changes in financial hardship affected depression, and whether self-esteem mediated by this relationship.
Data from 99,588 observations of 15,331 individuals were extracted from 10 waves of the Korean Welfare Panel Study. The association between changes in financial hardship and depression was investigated using a generalized estimation equation, and the extent to which these associations were mediated by self-esteem was assessed.
The results indicated that changes in financial hardship were associated with depression, with varying magnitude. Experiencing severe financial hardship over two consecutive years (odds ratio [OR]: 3.87, 95% confidence interval [CI]=3.09–4.85) or increased financial hardship over the previous year strongly influenced depression (e.g., OR: 3.88, 95% CI=3.09–4.86 for low financial hardship at t-1 year and high at t year). Self-esteem plays a mediating role in the relationship between changes in financial hardship and depression, where persistent financial hardship is associated with low self-esteem, leading to depression.
These findings highlighted the importance of monitoring and intervention for financial hardship and psychological problems to help manage depression.
Key words   Depression; Financial hardship; Self-esteem; Mental health
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