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Insights on unemployment, unemployment insurance, and mental health


  • Tefft, Nathan


This paper contributes to the growing literature on the relationship between business cycles and mental health. It is one of the first applications in the economics literature to incorporate data on web searches from Google Insights for Search, and these unique data allow the opportunity to estimate the association between weekly unemployment insurance (UI) claims, in addition to monthly unemployment rates, and search indexes for "depression" and "anxiety". Results from state fixed effects models yield (1) a positive relationship between the unemployment rate and the depression search index and (2) a negative relationship between initial UI claims on the one hand and the depression and anxiety search indexes on the other. A lag analysis also shows that an extended period of higher levels of continued UI claims is associated with a higher depression search index.

Suggested Citation

  • Tefft, Nathan, 2011. "Insights on unemployment, unemployment insurance, and mental health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 258-264, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:30:y:2011:i:2:p:258-264

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2005. "Healthy living in hard times," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 341-363, March.
    2. Nikolaos Askitas & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2009. "Google Econometrics and Unemployment Forecasting," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 55(2), pages 107-120.
    3. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
    4. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650.
    5. Mark J. Kamstra & Lisa A. Kramer & Maurice D. Levi, 2003. "Winter Blues: A SAD Stock Market Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 324-343, March.
    6. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2003. "Good times make you sick," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 637-658, July.
    7. N/A, 2009. "On the Recession," Local Economy, London South Bank University, vol. 24(3), pages 253-253, May.
    8. Berger, Magdalena & Wagner, Todd H. & Baker, Laurence C., 2005. "Internet use and stigmatized illness," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(8), pages 1821-1827, October.
    9. Matthew E. Kahn & Matthew J. Kotchen, 2010. "Environmental Concern and the Business Cycle: The Chilling Effect of Recession," NBER Working Papers 16241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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