Development and Mental Health
Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
- Chair: Johannes Haushofer, Princeton University
Can Cash Transfers Prevent Suicides? Experimental Evidence From Indonesia
AbstractWe examine how income shocks affect mental health, using novel village-level census data on Indonesian suicides, and two identification strategies. First, we exploit a randomized experiment on cash transfers, and second, we use the population-wide roll-out of the same cash transfer program. We find evidence from both identification methods that the cash transfer program decreases the probability of suicide by about 15 percent within a sub-district. The effects are driven by sub-districts that have been in receipt of the cash transfer program for a longer period of time, i.e. medium term effects seem to be stronger than short-term effects. Our evidence supports the view that economic circumstances are an important motive for suicides, and that social welfare programs can effectively improve mental health among the ultra-poor in developing countries.
Does mental health affect women's financial empowerment? Experimental evidence from an RCT treating maternal depression
AbstractWe evaluate the long-term impact of treating depression on women's financial empowerment by exploiting experimental variation induced by a Randomized Control Trial which provided psychotherapy to perinatally depressed mothers in rural Pakistan. The intervention provided Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for nearly 1 year postpartum and was highly successful, reducing depression rates by 31 percentage points in the treated group relative to control after 1 year. To evaluate the long-run effect, we successfully re-located 83% of the the original sample 7 years later. We find that the mental health benefits persist even 6 years after the intervention concluded: treated mothers were 6 percentage points less likely to be depressed and had higher mental health scores of 0.2 standard deviations. The intervention was especially effective, both in the short-and long-run, for mothers who were identified as vulnerable based on low social support at baseline. In the long-run, the beneficial effect of CBT appears to be concentrated among mothers who did not have a grandmother of the children living with them or who had low levels of social support at baseline. This suggests that social support provides a buffer effect that enables recovery, for which treatment is a substitute. Finally, we find evidence that the intervention improved mother's empowerment in the short-run and increased her financial autonomy- her labor supply, income, and ability to make spending decisions- in the long run. The long-run effects on mother's financial autonomy appear to be driven by the vulnerable subgroup of women who benefited most from the intervention.
Fetal Origins of Mental Health: Evidence From Africa
AbstractMental health disorders are a substantial portion of the global disease burden, yet their determinants are understudied, particularly in developing countries. We find that temperature shocks in utero increase depressive symptoms in adulthood in Africa. A ten percent increase in heat exposure increases our depression indices .05 to .07 standard deviations. We find no evidence that the effects of these shocks are smaller for more recent birth cohorts, nor do shocks predict greater treatment of depressive symptoms. Temperature fluctuations, increasingly frequent due to climate change, worsen the mental health disease burden and health care systems in Africa do not mitigate these impacts.
- I3 - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
- O1 - Economic Development