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Up or Down? Intergenerational Mental Health Transmission and Cash Transfers in South Africa

Author

Listed:
  • Katherine Eyal

    (SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town)

  • Justine Burns

    (School of Economics, University of Cape Town)

Abstract

We investigate the intergenerational transmission of depression in South Africa from parents to teens, and the positive role income shocks (in the form of cash transfers) can play to reduce this transmission effect. South Africa is characterised by high levels of mental illness, concurrent with poor access to the appropriate care. The consequences of untreated psychiatric disorders are profound, especially in the formative period of adolescence. A dearth of research and data exists in South Africa in this area. We use the National Income Dynamics Survey, the only recent nationally representative survey which collects data both on mental illness and socio-economic factors. Cash transfers are found to be particularly important as a protective factor against teens developing mental illness, and specifically for those teens with parents who themselves suffer from mental illnesses. Pensions are also found to be a positive factor for teen mental health. Using a number of methods, we find that the impact of parental depression on child depression is high - one third of children (adult or teen) who have parents who suffer from depression will themselves suffer from depression. We investigate the temporal nature of this relationship and find that it is mainly current parental depression and current CSG receipt which are important - gaining the grant between waves, and having a parent who suffers from depression in previous waves does not significantly impact on one's current mental health status.

Suggested Citation

  • Katherine Eyal & Justine Burns, 2016. "Up or Down? Intergenerational Mental Health Transmission and Cash Transfers in South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 165, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  • Handle: RePEc:ldr:wpaper:165
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Sarah Baird & Jacobus de Hoop & Berk Özler, 2013. "Income Shocks and Adolescent Mental Health," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(2), pages 370-403.
    4. Nattavudh Powdthavee & Anna Vignoles, 2008. "Mental Health of Parents and Life Satisfaction of Children: A Within-Family Analysis of Intergenerational Transmission of Well-Being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 88(3), pages 397-422, September.
    5. Susan Godlonton & Malcolm Keswell, 2005. "The Impact Of Health On Poverty: Evidence From The South African Integrated Family Survey," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 73(1), pages 133-148, March.
    6. Fernald, Lia C.H. & Gunnar, Megan R., 2009. "Poverty-alleviation program participation and salivary cortisol in very low-income children," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(12), pages 2180-2189, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Strulik, Holger, 2016. "Myopic misery: Maternal depression, child investments, and the neurobiological poverty trap," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 294, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    2. Katherine Eyal & Lindokuhle Njozela, 2016. "What Difference Does A Year Make? The Cumulative Effect of Missing Cash Transfers on Schooling Attainment," SALDRU Working Papers 186, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Intergenerational transmission; Depression; Cash Transfers; Mental Illness; National Income Dynamics Study; South Africa;

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