Some of the material in is restricted to members of the community. By logging in, you may be able to gain additional access to certain collections or items. If you have questions about access or logging in, please use the form on the Contact Page.
Past studies have shown that various aspects of occupational attainment (unemployment, job instability, low occupational status, and low earnings) are associated with poor mental health, but each of these studies focused on one or two aspects of occupational attainment. Consequently, it remains unclear whether their associations are independent of each other. Further, little is known about whether negative self-assessments of occupational attainment are linked to poor mental health. We sought to overcome these limitations of past research while focusing on depressive symptoms as a mental health outcome and young adulthood as a life stage context. The study analysed U.S. data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (n = 13,178) using ordinary least square models. The analysis showed that all aspects of occupational attainment were associated with depressive symptoms in the expected directions. Further, unemployment, job instability, and negative self-assessment of career progress showed stronger associations, and those associations were independent of other occupational attainment variables. Overall, the results suggested that understanding the association between occupational attainment and mental health requires close attention to the life stage context.