Effects of Economic Conditions on Mental Health Outcomes for Children and Adolescents

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Ezra Golberstein, School of Public Health, UMN

An expansive literature studies the effects of economic conditions on health outcomes but ignores possible effects on children.  Among children, mental health outcomes have been shown to far exceed physical health outcomes as detriments to human capital accumulation and future labor market outcomes. We link state and metropolitan area-level unemployment data to household data on the health of children, including measures of children’s mental health. Within states and MSAs over time, child mental health status declines as economic conditions deteriorate. The deleterious effects of recessions on child mental health persist even in families less-likely to be affected directly by job loss.  We also find evidence that the use of early intervention and special education services for emotional problems rise when economic conditions worsen.  Our results suggest that the 2007-2009 Great Recession had an adverse effect on mental health equivalent to reducing family incomes by $5,000 per year.

For questions or further information please contact Ezra Golberstein at egolber@umn.edu.

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