Depressive symptoms and the salience of job satisfaction over the life course of professionals

Gabriele Plickert*, Fiona Kay, John Hagan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Despite growing interest in the relationship between job satisfaction and well-being, little is known about how job satisfaction and mental health may vary with age or stage of career. The professions, in particular, represent somewhat of a black box. Rewards associated with being a professional include prestige, autonomy, high income, heavy responsibilities, long working hours, and tight deadlines. Are professional jobs healthy jobs? The purpose of this paper is to investigate how mental health trajectories of legal professionals are a function of job satisfaction and how this relationship varies over stages of the life course. We apply a life course perspective and incorporate theories of work-family interface, role identity, and job-demands control. Using growth curve models with longitudinal panel data tracking the careers and lives of lawyers, we find declines in the trajectories of depressive symptoms over the life course. Job satisfaction is salient to trajectories of depressive symptoms, with pronounced effects during the early career years. We also find that mental health is improved by authority and control in the workplace as well as by marriage/cohabitation. These processes are observed to differ for men and women during the early career to periods of midlife.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-33
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Life Course Research
StatePublished - Mar 2017


  • Depressive symptoms
  • Hierarchical growth curve model
  • Job satisfaction
  • Life course
  • Professionals
  • Work-family interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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