Child Mental Health and Educational Attainment: Multiple Observers and the Measurement Error Problem

37 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2011

See all articles by David W. Johnston

David W. Johnston

Monash University

Carol Propper

Imperial College London Business School; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); University of Bristol - Leverhulme Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO)

Stephen Pudney

University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER)

Michael A. Shields

University of Melbourne - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

We examine the effect of survey measurement error on the empirical relationship between child mental health and personal and family characteristics, and between child mental health and educational progress. Our contribution is to use unique UK survey data that contains (potentially biased) assessments of each child's mental state from three observers (parent, teacher and child), together with expert (quasi-)diagnoses, using an assumption of optimal diagnostic behaviour to adjust for reporting bias. We use three alternative restrictions to identify the effect of mental disorders on educational progress. Maternal education and mental health, family income, and major adverse life events, are all significant in explaining child mental health, and child mental health is found to have a large influence on educational progress. Our preferred estimate is that a 1-standard deviation reduction in 'true' latent child mental health leads to a 2-5 months loss in educational progress. We also find a strong tendency for observers to understate the problems of older children and adolescents compared to expert diagnosis.

Keywords: Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, education, child mental health, measurement error

JEL Classification: C30, I10, I21, J24

Suggested Citation

Johnston, David W. and Propper, Carol and Pudney, Stephen and Shields, Michael A., Child Mental Health and Educational Attainment: Multiple Observers and the Measurement Error Problem. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5874. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1906177

Carol Propper

Imperial College London Business School ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London SW7 2AZ, SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

University of Bristol - Leverhulme Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO) ( email )

12 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TN
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/Economics/department/profiles/propper.htm

Stephen Pudney

University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Michael A. Shields

University of Melbourne - Department of Economics ( email )

Victoria 3010, 3010
Australia
+61 3 8344 4656 (Phone)
+61 3 8344 6899 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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