Mental Health in Childhood and Human Capital
In: The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective
Although mental disorders are common among children, we know little about their long term effects on child outcomes. This paper examines U.S. and Canadian children with symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, conduct disorders, and other behavioral problems. Our work offers a number of innovations. First we use large nationally representative samples of children from both countries. Second, we focus on "screeners" that were administered to all children in our sample, rather than on diagnosed cases. Third, we address omitted variables bias by estimating sibling-fixed effects models. Fourth, we examine a range of outcomes. Fifth, we ask how the effects of mental health conditions are mediated by family income and maternal education. We find that mental health conditions, and especially ADHD, have large negative effects on future test scores and schooling attainment, regardless of family income and maternal education.
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