The Effect of Children on Depression in Old Age
University of Mannheim - Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging (MEA)
MEA Discussion Paper No. 249-11
This article investigates the causal relationship between the number of biological children and mental health of elderly Europeans. Specifically, we ask whether additional children improve or threaten parents' mental health status.
Our identification draws on two natural experiments that exogenously increase the number of children: multiple births and the sex composition of the first two children. This setup allows us to identify the effect of expected and desired and unexpected additional children on mental health.
Using a large and extensive survey of elderly Europeans, we find that additional children can exert a negative causal effect on mental health of females namely on the likelihood of depression and the use of antidepressant drugs. There is no evidence for a causal effect of having additional children on the probability to suffer from depression for elder men.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Keywords: mental health, fertility, causal effect
JEL Classification: I12, J13working papers series
Date posted: March 4, 2012
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