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Effects of Mental Health on Couple Relationship Status

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Author Info

  • Nancy E. Reichman

    (Robert Wood Johnson Medical School & Princeton University)

  • Hope Corman

    (Rider University & NBER)

  • Kelly Noonan

    (Rider University & NBER)

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    Abstract

    We exploit the occurrence of postpartum depression (PPD), which has a random component according to the medical community, to estimate causal effects of a salient form of mental illness on couples’ relationship status. We estimate single-equation models as well as bivariate probit models that address the endogeneity of PPD. We find that this relatively prevalent mental illness reduces the probability the couples are married (by 22–24%) as well the probability that they are living together (married or cohabiting) (by 24–26%) three years after the birth of the child. Models stratified by relationship status at the time of the birth indicate that PPD makes it more likely that unions dissolve (particularly among baseline cohabitors) and less likely that unions are formed (particularly among baseline non-cohabitors). The findings contribute to the literature on the effects of mental illness on relationships and to the broader literature on socioeconomic status and health.

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    File URL: http://crcw.princeton.edu/workingpapers/WP13-09-FF.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 1473.

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    Date of creation: Jun 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp13-09-ff

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    Related research

    Keywords: postpartum depression; motherhood; families; mental illness; relationship status;

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    References

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    1. Laura Tach & Kathryn Edin, 2013. "The Compositional and Institutional Sources of Union Dissolution for Married and Unmarried Parents in the United States," Demography, Springer, vol. 50(5), pages 1789-1818, October.
    2. Weiss, Y. & Willis, R.J., 1995. "Match Quality, New Information and Marital Dissolution," Papers 33-95, Tel Aviv - the Sackler Institute of Economic Studies.
    3. Bartel, Ann & Taubman, Paul, 1986. "Some Economic and Demographic Consequences of Mental Illness," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 243-56, April.
    4. Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1802-1820, December.
    5. Marcia Carlson & Sara Mclanahan & Paula England, 2004. "Union formation in fragile families," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 237-261, May.
    6. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-87, December.
    7. Reichman, Nancy E. & Teitler, Julien O. & Garfinkel, Irwin & McLanahan, Sara S., 2001. "Fragile Families: sample and design," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 303-326.
    8. Nancy Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan, 2004. "Effects of child health on parents’ relationship status," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 569-584, August.
    9. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 2003. "Child gender and the transition to marriage," Demography, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 333-349, May.
    10. Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Nancy Reichman & Ofira Schwartz-Soicher, 2011. "Life Shocks and Crime: A Test of the “Turning Point” Hypothesis," Demography, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 1177-1202, August.
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