Adolescence is the segment of the life course when gender differences in mental health emerge and gender becomes a more salient factor shaping orientations toward oneself and views of one s place in the social world. This study uses mixture modeling, to identify trajectories of masculinity and femininity between ages 12 and 25, and OLS regression, to examine the effects of those trajectories on mental health in young adulthood (measured as depressive symptoms and alcohol problems at age 25). Four waves of prospective data from the Rutgers Health and Human Development Project are used; respondents (n = 447) are age 12 at Wave 1 (1979-81), 15 at Wave 2 (1982-84), 18 at Wave 3 (1985-87), and 25 at Wave 4 (1992-94). Results indicate that having relatively high and increasing levels of masculinity over adolescence decreases depressive symptoms in early adulthood for both males and females. Reflecting the privileging of males over females, the findings suggest that masculinity, but not femininity, is a central axis on which advantages and disadvantages across some dimensions of mental health accumulate over adolescence.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Social Psychology