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Mental Health and Education Decisions


  • Francesca Cornaglia
  • Elena Crivellaro
  • Sandra McNally


Mental health problems - and depression in particular - have been rising internationally. The link between poor mental health and poor educational outcomes is particularly interesting in the case of the UK which has a low international ranking both on measures of child wellbeing and the probability of early drop-out from the labour market and education. We study this issue using a large longitudinal study of a recent cohort of teenagers in England. We use the General Health Questionnaire to derive measures of poor mental health. We find a large negative association between mental health problems and educational outcomes - where we consider examination results before leaving compulsory education and the probability of being "not in education, employment or training" at a young age. The association is large even after including a very rich set of controls. Results are stronger for girls and also vary according to the different components of the mental health measure. We also explore the potential role of intermediary mechanisms (truancy and risky behaviours).

Suggested Citation

  • Francesca Cornaglia & Elena Crivellaro & Sandra McNally, 2012. "Mental Health and Education Decisions," CEE Discussion Papers e0136, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:e0136

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Weili Ding & Steven F. Lehrer, 2007. "Do Peers Affect Student Achievement in China's Secondary Schools?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 300-312, May.
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    5. Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Money and mental wellbeing: A longitudinal study of medium-sized lottery wins," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 49-60, January.
    6. Fletcher, Jason & Wolfe, Barbara, 2008. "Child mental health and human capital accumulation: The case of ADHD revisited," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 794-800, May.
    7. Jason M. Fletcher, 2008. "Adolescent depression: diagnosis, treatment, and educational attainment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(11), pages 1215-1235.
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    Cited by:

    1. Silvia Mendolia & Ian Walker, 2015. "Youth unemployment and personality traits," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-26, December.
    2. Banks, Joanne & Maitre, Bertrand & McCoy, Selina, 2015. "Insights into the Lives of Children with Disabilities: Findings from the 2006 National Disability Survey," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BKMNEXT274.
    3. Egan, Mark & Daly, Michael & Delaney, Liam, 2015. "Childhood psychological distress and youth unemployment: Evidence from two British cohort studies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 11-17.
    4. Javier Valbuena, 2012. "A Longitudinal Perspective on Higher Education Participation in the UK," Studies in Economics 1215, School of Economics, University of Kent.

    More about this item


    mental health; educational attainment; drop-out;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education


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