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The effect of children on depression in old age

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  • Kruk, Kai Eberhard
  • Reinhold, Steffen

Abstract

This article investigates the causal relationship between the number of biological children and mental health of elderly Europeans. Specifically, we ask whether additional children improve or threaten parents' mental health status. The identification of causal effects draws on two natural experiments that exogenously increase the number of children: multiple births and the sex composition of the first two children. This setup allows us to identify the effect of expected and desired as well as the effect of unexpected additional children on mental health. For women, we find conflicting evidence regarding the effect of additional children on mental health, and we only find a negative effect of having additional children on mental health using multiple birth at the second pregnancy as instrument. Thus, it takes a rare and somewhat particular situation to uncover the negative effect. There is no evidence for a causal effect of additional children on the probability to suffer from depression for elder men.

Suggested Citation

  • Kruk, Kai Eberhard & Reinhold, Steffen, 2014. "The effect of children on depression in old age," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 1-11.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:100:y:2014:i:c:p:1-11
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.09.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kolodziej, Ingo W.K. & García-Gómez, Pilar, 2019. "Saved by retirement: Beyond the mean effect on mental health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 225(C), pages 85-97.
    2. Tabea Bucher-Koenen & Helmut Farbmacher & Raphael Guber & Johan Vikström, 2020. "Double Trouble: The Burden of Child-rearing and Working on Maternal Mortality," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(2), pages 559-576, April.
    3. Kolodziej, Ingo W.K. & García-Gómez, Pilar, 2017. "The causal effects of retirement on mental health: Looking beyond the mean effects," Ruhr Economic Papers 668, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    4. Aassve, Arnstein & Luppi, Francesca & Pronzato, Chiara & Pudney, Steve, 2020. "Lifetime events and the well-being of older people," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 202001, University of Turin.

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    Keywords

    Mental health; Causal effect; Old age; Family size;

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