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Mental Health and Education Decisions


  • Cornaglia, Francesca

    () (Queen Mary, University of London)

  • Crivellaro, Elena

    () (OECD)

  • McNally, Sandra

    () (London School of Economics)


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 behaviors).

Suggested Citation

  • Cornaglia, Francesca & Crivellaro, Elena & McNally, Sandra, 2012. "Mental Health and Education Decisions," IZA Discussion Papers 6452, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6452

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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. Daniel Gladwell & Gurleen Popli & Aki Tsuchiya, 2015. "A Dynamic Analysis of Skill Formation and NEET status," Working Papers 2015016, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    4. Avendano, M.; de Coulon, A.; Nafilyan, V.;, 2017. "Does more education always improve mental health? Evidence from a British compulsory schooling reform," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 17/10, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    5. 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.
    6. Meng, Xin & Xue, Sen, 2017. "Social Networks and Mental Health Problems: Evidence from Rural-to-Urban Migrants in China," IZA Discussion Papers 10481, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Gunes, Pinar & Tsaneva, Magda, 2016. "The Effects of Early Pregnancy on Education, Physical Health and Mental Distress: Evidence from Mexico," Working Papers 2016-14, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    8. Javier Valbuena, 2012. "A Longitudinal Perspective on Higher Education Participation in the UK," Studies in Economics 1215, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    9. repec:spr:italej:v:3:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s40797-016-0045-8 is not listed on IDEAS

    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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