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Effects of Mental Health on Couple Relationship Status

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  • Nancy E. Reichman
  • Hope Corman
  • Kelly Noonan

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Nancy E. Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan, 2013. "Effects of Mental Health on Couple Relationship Status," NBER Working Papers 19164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19164
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1997. "Match Quality, New Information, and Marital Dissolution," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 293-329, January.
    2. 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 1141-1187, December.
    3. Laura Tach & Kathryn Edin, 2013. "The Compositional and Institutional Sources of Union Dissolution for Married and Unmarried Parents in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(5), pages 1789-1818, October.
    4. Nancy Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan, 2004. "Effects of child health on parents’ relationship status," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(3), pages 569-584, August.
    5. Marcia Carlson & Sara Mclanahan & Paula England, 2004. "Union formation in fragile families," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(2), pages 237-261, May.
    6. 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.
    7. Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1802-1820, December.
    8. Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Nancy Reichman & Ofira Schwartz-Soicher, 2011. "Life Shocks and Crime: A Test of the “Turning Point” Hypothesis," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(3), pages 1177-1202, August.
    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 243-256, April.
    10. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 2003. "Child gender and the transition to marriage," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 40(2), pages 333-349, May.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. #HEJC papers for August 2013
      by academichealtheconomists in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2013-08-01 04:00:48

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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