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All in the Family: Mental Health Spillover Effects between Working Spouses

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  • Fletcher Jason

    () (Yale University)

Abstract

It is well documented that mental health outcomes are correlated between spouses. There are several alternative hypotheses for this correlation, including both causal and non-causal pathways. In this paper, I use an instrumental variables/fixed effects approach to examine whether there is evidence that an individual's mental health status spills over on his or her spouse's mental health status. Results from the IV-FE specifications that use spousal job problems as an instrument are large in magnitude. In particular, spousal mental health status is estimated to have a greater influence on an individual's mental health status than his or her own mental health endowment and is similar in magnitude with his or her own physical health status. Although not conclusive, these findings suggest that within-family spillovers of mental illness could be economically important and that policies that reduce mental health problems for individuals likely have unmeasured benefits for their family members.

Suggested Citation

  • Fletcher Jason, 2009. "All in the Family: Mental Health Spillover Effects between Working Spouses," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-21, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:9:y:2009:i:1:n:3
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
    2. Wilson, Sven E., 2002. "The health capital of families: an investigation of the inter-spousal correlation in health status," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(7), pages 1157-1172, October.
    3. Bound, John & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, January.
    4. Christine Schwartz & Robert Mare, 2005. "Trends in educational assortative marriage from 1940 to 2003," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 42(4), pages 621-646, November.
    5. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2006. "Some Uses of Happiness Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-46, Winter.
    6. Basu, Anirban & Meltzer, David, 2005. "Implications of spillover effects within the family for medical cost-effectiveness analysis," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 751-773, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Castro, Marcelo Araújo & Mattos, Enlinson & Patriota, Fernanda, 2016. "Spatial spillovers and political coordination in public health provision," Textos para discussão 417, FGV/EESP - Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
    2. Nancy Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan, 2015. "Effects of maternal depression on couple relationship status," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 929-973, December.
    3. Bubonya, Melisa & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Wooden, Mark, 2014. "A Family Affair: Job Loss and the Mental Health of Spouses and Adolescents," IZA Discussion Papers 8588, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. repec:spr:izalbr:v:6:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1186_s40172-017-0056-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Daysal, N. Meltem & Orsini, Chiara, 2012. "Spillover Effects of Drug Safety Warnings on Health Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 6409, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Vicki L. Bogan & Angela R. Fertig, 2013. "Portfolio Choice and Mental Health," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 17(3), pages 955-992.
    7. Dahal, Arati & Fertig, Angela, 2013. "An econometric assessment of the effect of mental illness on household spending behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 18-33.
    8. Ayyagari, Padmaja & Shane, Dan M., 2015. "Does prescription drug coverage improve mental health? Evidence from Medicare Part D," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 46-58.

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