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The Effects of Depressive Symptoms on Earnings


  • Attila Cseh*

    () (Department of Marketing and Economics, Harley Langdale, Jr. College of Business Administration, Valdosta State University, 1500 N. Patterson St., Valdosta, GA 31698, USA
    Department of Economics, Finance and Legal Studies, University of Alabama, Box 870224, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA)


Conventional wisdom is that depression lowers productivity. The magnitude of this effect has been of interest to economists and other social scientists as well as medical researchers. In this paper, I take advantage of the longitudinal nature of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 to investigate the effects from a dynamic perspective and to control for unobserved heterogeneity in a fixed-effects framework. Exploiting the fact that the data set provides information about depressive symptoms in multiple years, I am able to study how changes in depressive symptoms impact productivity. My results indicate that taking personality into account is important in estimating how depression affects wages. While ordinary least-squares results render a strong negative significant effect to depressive symptom measures (especially in the men’s sample), taking unobserved personal characteristics into account reduces the effects of these measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Attila Cseh*, 2008. "The Effects of Depressive Symptoms on Earnings," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 383-409, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:75:2:y:2008:p:383-409

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: New Data without Order Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 902-912, June.
    2. Martin G. Kocher & Matthias Sutter, 2005. "The Decision Maker Matters: Individual Versus Group Behaviour in Experimental Beauty-Contest Games," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 200-223, January.
    3. RobertS. Shupp & ArlingtonW. Williams, 2008. "Risk preference differentials of small groups and individuals," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(525), pages 258-283, January.
    4. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
    5. David Masclet & Youenn Loheac & Laurent Denant-Boemont & Nathalie Colombier, 2004. "Group and individual risk preferences : a lottery-choice experiment," Cahiers de la Maison des Sciences Economiques bla06063, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), revised Sep 2006.
    6. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00118973 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Glenn W. Harrison & Eric Johnson & Melayne M. McInnes & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 897-901, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andersen, Martin, 2015. "Heterogeneity and the effect of mental health parity mandates on the labor market," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 74-84.
    2. Lizhong Peng & Chad D. Meyerhoefer & Samuel H. Zuvekas, 2016. "The Short‐Term Effect of Depressive Symptoms on Labor Market Outcomes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(10), pages 1223-1238, October.
    3. Joseph J. Sabia & Angela K. Dills & Jeffrey DeSimone, 2013. "Sexual Violence against Women and Labor Market Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 274-278, May.
    4. Noonan, Kelly & Corman, Hope & Reichman, Nancy E., 2016. "Effects of maternal depression on family food insecurity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 201-215.
    5. Harris, Timothy & Yelowitz, Aaron, 2016. "Life Insurance Holdings and Well-Being of Surviving Spouses," MPRA Paper 70334, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Kelly Noonan & Hope Corman & Nancy E. Reichman, 2014. "Effects of Maternal Depression on Family Food Insecurity," NBER Working Papers 20113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Vicki L. Bogan & Angela R. Fertig, 2013. "Portfolio Choice and Mental Health," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 17(3), pages 955-992.
    8. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials


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