Mental Illness and Unhappiness
AbstractThis paper is a contribution to the second World Happiness Report. It makes five main points. 1. Mental health is the biggest single predictor of life-satisfaction. This is so in the UK, Germany and Australia even if mental health is included with a six-year lag. It explains more of the variance of life-satisfaction in the population of a country than physical health does, and much more than unemployment and income do. Income explains 1% of the variance of life-satisfaction or less. 2. Much the most common forms of mental illness are depression and anxiety disorders. Rigorously defined, these affect about 10% of all the world’s population – and prevalence is similar in rich and poor countries. 3. Depression and anxiety are more common during working age than in later life. They account for a high proportion of disability and impose major economic costs and financial losses to governments worldwide. 4. Yet even in rich countries, under a third of people with diagnosable mental illness are in treatment. 5. Cost-effective treatments exist, with recovery rates of 50% or more. In rich countries treatment is likely to have no net cost to the Exchequer due to savings on welfare benefits and lost taxes. But even in poor countries a reasonable level of coverage could be obtained at a cost of under $2 per head of population per year.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 600.
Length: 32 p.
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Mental illness; welfare benefits; healthcare costs; life-satisfaction;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
- I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
- I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-11-16 (All new papers)
- NEP-HAP-2013-11-16 (Economics of Happiness)
- NEP-HEA-2013-11-16 (Health Economics)
- NEP-LTV-2013-11-16 (Unemployment, Inequality & Poverty)
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