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Socioeconomic inequalities in health

Education level directly affects incidence of depression


According to a survey of more than 7,000 respondents conducted by researchers at the SYRI National Institute, the incidence of depression in the Czech population is directly affected by an individual’s level of education. People with only primary education are up to five times more likely to experience moderate to severe depressive symptoms than university graduates. The situation is even worse for people without jobs. The risk for the unemployed is up to 12 times higher than for the employed.

Overall, in the population sample studied, 86.4% of respondents were symptom-free. "We detected mild depressive symptoms in 10.5%, moderate to severe depression in 3.1%," said Michala Lustigová from the National Institute SYRI and the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development at Charles University.

People with higher education, employment, and higher incomes were especially free of depressive symptoms. "On the other hand, the highest proportion of people with mild depressive disorders were those with primary education, unemployed or retired, and with the lowest incomes," Marie Kuklová from SYRI said.

The most severe symptoms of depression were experienced by 3.1% of all respondents. That number rises to 7% for the group of people with only a primary education, no employment, and the lowest incomes. "On the other hand, the lowest prevalence of moderate to severe depressive symptoms, around 1%, was observed among university-educated individuals, employed individuals and individuals with higher incomes," Lustigová said.

According to the Lustig, the research clearly demonstrated that there is a significant relationship between education level and the risk of depression. "Compared to the university-educated, people with only a primary education had twice the odds of experiencing mild depression. An even higher difference, nearly five times greater, was then found in the same education categories for moderate to severe depressive symptoms. High school-educated respondents had 2.5 times the odds of moderate to severe depressive symptoms than individuals with a university degree," Kuklová said.

Economic activity also plays a significant role, according to the researcher. In contrast, income per se and its level are highly related to education. The risk of moderate and severe depression among the unemployed is up to 12 times higher compared to those who have a job. Overall, the results from the Czech Republic confirm similar research from abroad.

Further information: Vliv socioekonomického statusu na výskyt depresivních symptomů v populaci Česka – výsledky EHIS 2019 | ČSÚ (


RNDr. Michala Lustigová Ph.D.

Position: Senior researcher
+420 221 951 388