All in the Family: Mental Health Spillover Effects between Working Spouses

25 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2008

See all articles by Jason M. Fletcher

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs; Yale University - School of Public Health

Date Written: November 10, 2008

Abstract

It is well documented that mental health outcomes are correlated between spouses. There are several alternative hypotheses for this correlation, including both causal and non-causal pathways. In this paper, I use an instrumental variables/fixed effects approach to examine whether there is evidence that an individual's mental health status spills over on his or her spouse's mental health status. Results from the IV-FE specifications that use spousal job problems as an instrument are large in magnitude. In particular, spousal mental health status is estimated to have a greater influence on an individual's mental health status than own mental health endowment and is similar in magnitude with own physical health status. Although not conclusive, these findings suggest that within-family spillovers of mental illness could be economically important and that policies that reduce mental health problems for individuals likely have unmeasured benefits for their family members.

Keywords: Mental Health, Spousal Spillovers, Peer Effects

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Jason M., All in the Family: Mental Health Spillover Effects between Working Spouses (November 10, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1299304 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1299304

Jason M. Fletcher (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States

Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

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