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

Listed author(s):
  • Fletcher Jason

    ()

    (Yale University)

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.

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File URL: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/bejeap.2009.9.1/bejeap.2009.9.1.1967/bejeap.2009.9.1.1967.xml?format=INT
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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 9 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 1-21

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:9:y:2009:i:1:n:3
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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. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
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