Family Ruptures, Stress, and the Mental Health of the Next Generation

89 Pages Posted: 9 May 2016

See all articles by Petra Persson

Petra Persson

Stanford University; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Maya Rossin-Slater

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 2016

Abstract

This paper studies how in utero exposure to maternal stress from family ruptures affects later mental health. We find that prenatal exposure to the death of a maternal relative increases take-up of ADHD medications during childhood and anti-anxiety and depression medications in adulthood. Further, family ruptures during pregnancy depress birth outcomes and raise the risk of perinatal complications necessitating hospitalization. Our results suggest large welfare gains from preventing fetal stress from family ruptures and possibly from economically induced stressors such as unemployment. They further suggest that greater stress exposure among the poor may partially explain the intergenerational persistence of poverty.

Suggested Citation

Persson, Petra and Rossin-Slater, Maya, Family Ruptures, Stress, and the Mental Health of the Next Generation (May 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22229, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2777317

Petra Persson (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Maya Rossin-Slater

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics ( email )

2127 North Hall
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

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