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Effects of Mental Health on Couple Relationship Status

  • Nancy E. Reichman
  • Hope Corman
  • Kelly Noonan
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    We exploit the occurrence of postpartum depression (PPD), which has a random component according to the medical community, to estimate causal effects of a salient form of mental illness on couples' relationship status. We estimate single-equation models as well as bivariate probit models that address the endogeneity of PPD. We find that this relatively prevalent mental illness reduces the probability the couples are married (by 22-24%) as well the probability that they are living together (married or cohabiting) (by 24-26%) three years after the birth of the child. Models stratified by relationship status at the time of the birth indicate that PPD makes it more likely that unions dissolve (particularly among baseline cohabitors) and less likely that unions are formed (particularly among baseline non-cohabitors). The findings contribute to the literature on the effects of mental illness on relationships and to the broader literature on socioeconomic status and health.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19164.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19164.

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    Date of creation: Jun 2013
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    Publication status: published as Reichman, N., Corman, H., Noonan, K. (2014). Effects of Maternal Depression on Couple Relationship Status. Review of Economics of the Household (in press; available online ahead of print).
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19164
    Note: CH HE
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    1. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 2003. "Child gender and the transition to marriage," Demography, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 333-349, May.
    2. Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Nancy Reichman & Ofira Schwartz-Soicher, 2011. "Life Shocks and Crime: A Test of the “Turning Point” Hypothesis," Demography, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 1177-1202, August.
    3. Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," NBER Working Papers 10014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-87, December.
    5. Reichman, Nancy E. & Teitler, Julien O. & Garfinkel, Irwin & McLanahan, Sara S., 2001. "Fragile Families: sample and design," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 303-326.
    6. Nancy Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan, 2004. "Effects of child health on parents’ relationship status," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 569-584, August.
    7. Weiss, Y. & Willis, R.J., 1995. "Match Quality, New Information and Marital Dissolution," Papers 33-95, Tel Aviv - the Sackler Institute of Economic Studies.
    8. Marcia Carlson & Sara Mclanahan & Paula England, 2004. "Union formation in fragile families," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 237-261, May.
    9. Bartel, Ann & Taubman, Paul, 1986. "Some Economic and Demographic Consequences of Mental Illness," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 243-56, April.
    10. Laura Tach & Kathryn Edin, 2013. "The Compositional and Institutional Sources of Union Dissolution for Married and Unmarried Parents in the United States," Demography, Springer, vol. 50(5), pages 1789-1818, October.
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