Depression and Political Efficacy

Luca Bernardi  (UAB)

4th Decembre 2018, 13:00h, Sala Annexa (B1/-109) de la Facultat de Ciències Polítiques i Sociologia de la UAB

Depression is one of the most common health issues. Previous research has mostly focused on identifying relationships between depression and political behaviour and the majority of these studies reported a negative effect of depression on voting. Yet previous work has largely overlooked the cognitive foundations of such effect. This paper starts filling this gap and points to political efficacy as a crucial precondition for political engagement that helps unveiling the mechanisms behind the depression-voting gap. We build on research from the cognitive aspects of depression, mental illness stigma and on health and political behaviour. We hypothesize a negative relationship between depression and political efficacy and test this expectation by combining evidence from cross-sectional data (European Social Survey) and panel data (UK Household Longitudinal Study). Our analyses produce three findings. First, individuals with depression exhibit lower levels of internal and external political efficacy. Second, changes in depression status influence only external but not internal political efficacy. Third, we find evidence of an accumulation effect of depression on external political efficacy. Our findings have important implications for political engagement suggesting that political efficacy might mediate the depression-voting relationship.