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Journal Article


Hu B. J. Gerontol. B Psychol. Sci. Soc. Sci. 2019; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2019, Gerontological Society of America, Publisher Oxford University Press)






OBJECTIVE: This study investigates the relationship between bullying victimization in childhood and mental health in old age.

METHODS: The study uses data from a nationally representative sample of 9,208 older people aged 60 and over collected through the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) conducted in 2014 and 2015.

RESULTS: Older people who were bullied in childhood have more severe depressive symptoms and are more likely to be dissatisfied with life than those without the experience of bullying victimization. The negative impacts remain significant after childhood confounders (15 types of familial adversities), four groups of contemporary confounders (demographic, health, social support and socioeconomic factors), and community-level unobserved heterogeneity are all controlled for. The negative impacts of bullying victimization on mental health are attenuated among people in very old age, which confirms the socioemotional selectivity theory.

DISCUSSION: The consequences of bullying victimization for mental health are comparable to, or even greater than those of familial adversities and contemporary risk factors. The factors threatening mental health vary considerably for older people in different age groups. Effective anti-bullying schemes in childhood and personalized support in later life can make a substantial contribution to healthy aging.

© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:

Language: en


Life-course perspective; depressive symptoms; healthy aging; life satisfaction; socioemotional selectivity theory


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