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Early Life Circumstance and Mental Health in Ghana


  • Achyuta Adhvaryu
  • James Fenske
  • Anant Nyshadham


We study the origins of adult mental health using early life income fluctuations. Combining a time series of real producer prices of cocoa with a nationally representative household survey in Ghana, we show that a one standard deviation rise in the cocoa price in early life decreases the likelihood of severe mental distress in adulthood by 3 percentage points (or half the mean prevalence) for cohorts born in cocoa-producing regions relative to other regions. Impacts on related personality traits are consistent with this result. Maternal nutrition, reinforcing childhood investments, and adult circumstance are operative channels of impact.

Suggested Citation

  • Achyuta Adhvaryu & James Fenske & Anant Nyshadham, 2014. "Early Life Circumstance and Mental Health in Ghana," CSAE Working Paper Series 2014-03, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2014-03

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Campaniello, N & Richiardi, M, 2015. "The role of museums in bilateral tourist flows: Evidence from Italy," Economics Discussion Papers 15638, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    2. Abhishek Chakravarty & Matthias Parey & Greg C. Wright, 2017. "The Human Capital Legacy of a Trade Embargo," 2017 Papers pch906, Job Market Papers.

    More about this item


    early life; mental health; endowments; commodity prices; Ghana;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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