The Role of Social Networks on Depressive Symptoms: A Comparison of Older Koreans in Three Geographic Areas

Nan Sook Park, Yuri Jang, David A. Chiriboga, Soondool Chung

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3 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine the correlates of depressive symptoms among older Korean adults in three geographic locations with varying densities of the Korean population: mainland Korea (mostly Koreans), New York metropolitan area (high Korean density), and west central Florida (low Korean density). The study focused on the role of family and friend networks. Data were drawn from three sources: (1) a multistage national sample of Koreans in South Korea (n = 403); (2) a survey conducted in the western/central Florida area that used a variety of culturally sensitive sampling strategies (n = 672); and (3) a survey in the New York metropolitan area (n = 420) that replicated the Florida study. For those living in Korea, living alone and lower perceived financial status were independently associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. For the New York and Florida samples, fair or poor self-rating of health, lower levels of acculturation, and weaker ties with family were related to higher levels of depressive symptoms. Similar to the older Korean sample, lower perceived financial status was linked with greater depressive symptoms in the New York sample. The overall results suggest that it is important to consider the interplay of the social network, personal, and cultural resources when working with older adults in diverse contexts. Intervention efforts should address mental health issues tailored to cultural and social settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-382
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • cross-national study
  • depressive symptoms
  • older Korean adults
  • social networks


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