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Müller, Andreas; Weigl, Matthias; Heiden, Barbara; Rudolph, Cort W.; Angerer, Peter (2017): The Age-Related Effect of Job Autonomy on Depressive Symptoms Through Selective Optimization With Compensation: A Two-Wave Panel Study. In: Work Aging and Retirement, Vol. 3, No. 4: pp. 379-392
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Selective optimization with compensation (SOC) is an effective behavioral strategy for coping with age-related changes across the work lifespan. However, the role of work-related determinants as well as their interplay with employees' SOC use and health over time is yet unclear. Our two-wave panel study among N = 335 nurses investigated job autonomy as an antecedent of SOC at work and tested further whether SOC is effective for decreasing depressive symptoms over time. Moreover, we examined the moderating effects of age on these associations. Results of our two-wave cross-lagged panel analyses show that in older employees, job autonomy is more conducive to the use of SOC behaviors at work. Furthermore, employees' SOC use is efficient for decreasing depressive symptoms over time. Finally, we observed a significant conditional indirect effect of job autonomy on depressive symptoms through SOC for older employees, but not for younger employees. Our findings contribute to a better understanding of the underlying dynamics of job design across the work lifespan and corroborate the importance of the SOC model for lifespan perspectives on occupational health research and practice.