IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Mental health patterns and consequences : results from survey data in five developing countries


  • Das, Jishnu
  • Do, Quy-Toan
  • Friedman, Jed
  • McKenzie,David


The social and economic consequences of poor mental health in the developing world are presumed to be significant, yet are largely under-researched. The authors argue that mental health modules can be meaningfully added to multi-purpose household surveys in developing countries, and used to investigate this relationship. Data from nationally representative surveys in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Indonesia, and Mexico, along with special surveys from India and Tonga, show similar patterns of association between mental health and socioeconomic characteristics across countries. Individuals who are older, female, widowed, and report poor physical health are more likely to report worse mental health outcomes. Individuals living with others with poor mental health are also significantly more likely to report worse mental health themselves. In contrast, there is little observed relationship between mental health and poverty or education, common measures of socio-economic status. The results instead suggest that economic and multi-dimensional shocks such as illness or crisis can have a greater impact on mental healththan overall levels of poverty. This may have important implications for social protection policy. The authors also find significant associations between poor mental health and lowered labor force participation (especially for women) and higher frequency visits to health centers, suggesting that poor mental health can have significant economic consequences for households and the health system. Finally, the paper discusses how measures of mental health are distinct from general subjective welfare measures such as happiness and indicate useful directions of future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Das, Jishnu & Do, Quy-Toan & Friedman, Jed & McKenzie,David, 2008. "Mental health patterns and consequences : results from survey data in five developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4495, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4495

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anders Bj�rklund, 1985. "Unemployment and Mental Health: Some Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(4), pages 469-483.
    2. Stillman, Steven & McKenzie, David & Gibson, John, 2009. "Migration and mental health: Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 677-687, May.
    3. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2008. "Mental health recovery and economic recovery after the tsunami: High-frequency longitudinal evidence from Sri Lankan small business owners," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 582-595, February.
    4. Das, Jishnu & Sanchez-Paramo, Carolina, 2003. "Short but not sweet - new evidence on short duration morbidities from India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2971, The World Bank.
    5. Michael Lokshin & Martin Ravallion, 2008. "Testing for an economic gradient in health status using subjective data," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(11), pages 1237-1259.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Rojas, Mariano, 2011. "Poverty and psychological distress in Latin America," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 206-217, March.
    2. repec:zbw:rwirep:0378 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Groh, Matthew & Krishnan, Nandini & McKenzie, David & Vishwanath, Tara, 2012. "Soft skills or hard cash ? the impact of training and wage subsidy programs on female youth employment in Jordan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6141, The World Bank.
    4. Lars Osberg & Andrew Sharpe, 2014. "Measuring Economic Insecurity in Rich and Poor Nations," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(S1), pages 53-76, May.
    5. Bratti, Massimiliano & Mendola, Mariapia & Miranda, Alfonso, 2015. "Hard to Forget: The Long-Lasting Impact of War on Mental Health," IZA Discussion Papers 9269, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Michaelsen, Maren M., 2012. "Mental Health and Labour Supply – Evidence from Mexico's Ongoing Violent Conflicts," Ruhr Economic Papers 378, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    7. Mayra Buvinic & Monica Das Gupta & Ursula Casabonne & Philip Verwimp, 2013. "Violent Conflict and Gender Inequality: An Overview," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 28(1), pages 110-138, February.
    8. 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.
    9. Nicola Jones & Hannah Marsden, 2010. "Assessing the Impacts of and Response to the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis through a Child Rights Lens," Working papers 1002, UNICEF,Division of Policy and Strategy.
    10. Research Group, Development, 2008. "Lessons from World Bank Research on Financial Crises," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4779, The World Bank.
    11. Maren M. Michaelsen, 2012. "Mental Health and Labour Supply – Evidence from Mexico‘s Ongoing Violent Conflicts," Ruhr Economic Papers 0378, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    12. Huijun Liu & Shuzhuo Li & Qunying Xiao & M. Feldman, 2014. "Social Support and Psychological Well-Being Under Social Change in Urban and Rural China," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(2), pages 979-996, November.
    13. Pierre-Richard Agénor & Madina Agénor, 2014. "Infrastructure, women’s time allocation, and economic development," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 1-30, September.
    14. Huijun Liu & Shuzhuo Li & Marc Feldman, 2013. "Gender in Marriage and Life Satisfaction Under Gender Imbalance in China: The Role of Intergenerational Support and SES," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(3), pages 915-933, December.
    15. David Fielding, 2013. "How Much Does Women's Empowerment Influence their Wellbeing? Evidence from Africa," Working Papers 1307, University of Otago, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2013.
    16. Dinuk Jayasuriya, 2014. "Influence of Posttraumatic Growth on Mental Health and Well-being Across Respondents Severely Affected by War in Post-conflict Sri Lanka," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(1), pages 265-280, October.

    More about this item


    Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Disease Control&Prevention; Gender and Health; Health Systems Development&Reform; Mental Health;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4495. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.