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Early Life Circumstance and Adult Mental Health

  • James Fenske
  • Achyuta Adhvaryu
  • Anant Nyshadham

We show that psychological well-being in adulthood varies substantially with circumstance in early life. Combining a time series of real producer prices of cocoa with a nationally representative household survey in Ghana, we find 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 those born in other regions. Impacts on related personality traits are consistent with this result. Maternal nutrition, reinforcing childhood investments, and adult circumstances are operative channels of impact.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 698.

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Date of creation: 26 Feb 2014
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:698
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