Socioeconomic Burden of Mental Disorders in Spain 2006-2017

UB Economics Working Papers E19/389

24 Pages Posted: 8 May 2019

See all articles by Alexandrina Stoyanova

Alexandrina Stoyanova

University of Barcelona

Jaime Pinilla

University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Date Written: April 3, 2019


Mental health is not only the lack of mental disorders but is considered a crucial resource for overall health and well-being (including employment and productivity). The current paper tries to shed some light on the evolution of mental well-being over a period of 15 years, including the years before, during and after the most recent economic downturn. We use data coming from the Spanish National Health Surveys of 2006/2007, 2011/2012 and 2016/2017. Mental health is proxied by two measures, doctor-diagnosed mental disorder and psychological distress (based on GHQ-12). To account for the causal relationship between the two mental health indicators, we estimate a bivariate probit model. We observe different patterns of the two mental health indicators over time. Psychological distress increased during recession years, due to major risk factors as unemployment and loss of socioeconomic status. Even though the need for mental healthcare increased during the recession, the fact that fewer people were diagnosed suggests that barriers to access to mental healthcare may be aggravated during the crisis.

Keywords: Mental health, psychological distress, economic crisis, bivariate probit, Spain

JEL Classification: I10, I14, I18

Suggested Citation

Stoyanova, Alexandrina and Pinilla, Jaime, Socioeconomic Burden of Mental Disorders in Spain 2006-2017 (April 3, 2019). UB Economics Working Papers E19/389, Available at SSRN: or

Alexandrina Stoyanova (Contact Author)

University of Barcelona ( email )

Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 585
Barcelona, 08007

Jaime Pinilla

University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria ( email )

C/Juan de Quesada, No. 30
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas 35017

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