Insights on Unemployment, Unemployment Insurance, and Mental Health

27 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2010 Last revised: 20 Jul 2011

Date Written: August 31, 2010


This paper contributes to the growing literature on the relationship between business cycles and mental health. It is one of the first applications in the economics literature to incorporate data on web searches from Google Insights for Search, and these unique data allow the opportunity to estimate the effects of weekly unemployment insurance claims, in addition to monthly unemployment rates, on search indexes for “depression” and “anxiety.” Results from state fixed effects models that include year and week dummies yield 1) a positive relationship between the unemployment rate and the depression search index and 2) a negative relationship between initial unemployment insurance claims on the one hand and the depression and anxiety search indexes on the other. These findings may help to inform future unemployment insurance legislation and other efforts to combat high unemployment.

Keywords: Unemployment, Unemployment Insurance, Macroeconomic Conditions, Mental Health

JEL Classification: E24, I1, J65

Suggested Citation

Tefft, Nathan, Insights on Unemployment, Unemployment Insurance, and Mental Health (August 31, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Nathan Tefft (Contact Author)

Bates College ( email )

Lewiston, ME 04240
United States

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