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Maternal depression and child human capital: A genetic instrumental-variable approach


  • Menta, Giorgia
  • Lepinteur, Anthony
  • Clark, Andrew E.
  • Ghislandi, Simone
  • D’Ambrosio, Conchita


We here address the causal relationship between maternal depression and child human capital using UK cohort data. We exploit the conditionally-exogenous variation in mothers’ genomes in an instrumental-variable approach, and describe the conditions under which mother’s genetic variants can be used as valid instruments. An additional episode of maternal depression between the child’s birth up to age nine reduces both their cognitive and non-cognitive skills by 20 to 45% of a SD throughout adolescence. Our results are robust to a battery of sensitivity tests addressing, among others, concerns about pleiotropy and the maternal transmission of genes to her child.

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  • Menta, Giorgia & Lepinteur, Anthony & Clark, Andrew E. & Ghislandi, Simone & D’Ambrosio, Conchita, 2021. "Maternal depression and child human capital: A genetic instrumental-variable approach," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 2107, CEPREMAP.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpm:docweb:2107

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    More about this item


    Mendelian Randomisation; Maternal Depression; Human Capital; Instrumental Variables; ALSPAC;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


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