EDUCATION AND DEPRESSION: A LIFE COURSE INVESTIGATION OF THE SENSE OF CONTROL MEDIATOR
McCall, James Richard
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This dissertation consists of three empirical studies that comprise a life course investigation of sense of control as a mediator linking education and mental health. These studies draw on data from the Youth Development Study, a panel study that began with a random sample of 9th graders in St. Paul Minnesota public schools in 1988. This data set is useful for this research because it contains over-time measures of sense of control that begin in adolescence and span the transition to adulthood. The first study, Chapter 2, develops and tests a novel theoretical model linking parent-adolescent relationship quality to adolescent sense of control through educational experiences. This test of mediation is important because adolescents who are closer with their parents may have higher sense of control because their relationship quality means they also have better educational experiences. This chapter is also important for this dissertation because it demonstrates that sense of control originates early in the life course and is linked to the educational realm. The second study, Chapter 3, investigates the role of adolescent sense of control in the association between educational attainment and adult sense of control. This test of sense of control selection calls into question a key theoretical assumption that describes a causal association between education and adult sense of control. Finally, the third study, Chapter 4, investigates the role of adolescent sense of control in the association between educational attainment and adult depression. This test of sense of control selection adds to prior research that has historically positioned sense of control as a mediator in the causal chain linking education with adult mental health. Collectively, these three chapters further our understanding of the developmental roots of sense of control and its consequences for status attainment and adult mental health.