Mental Health Therapy as a Core Strategy for Increasing Human Capital: Evidence from Ghana

45 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2021 Last revised: 7 Nov 2022

See all articles by Nathan Barker

Nathan Barker

Yale University

Gharad Bryan

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics

Dean Karlan

Northwestern University

Angela Ofori-Atta

University of Ghana

Christopher Udry

Northwestern University

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Date Written: October 2021

Abstract

We study the impact of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for individuals selected from the general population of poor households in rural Ghana. Results from 2-3 months after a randomized intervention show strong impacts on mental and physical health, cognitive and socioemotional skills, and downstream economic outcomes. We find no evidence of heterogeneity by baseline mental distress; we argue that this is because CBT can improve human capital for a general population of poor individuals through two pathways. First, CBT reduces vulnerability to deteriorating mental health; and second, CBT directly improves bandwidth, increasing cognitive and socioemotional skills and hence economic outcomes.

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Suggested Citation

Barker, Nathan and Bryan, Gharad and Karlan, Dean and Ofori-Atta, Angela and Udry, Christopher, Mental Health Therapy as a Core Strategy for Increasing Human Capital: Evidence from Ghana (October 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w29407, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3949218

Nathan Barker (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Gharad Bryan

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Dean Karlan

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Angela Ofori-Atta

University of Ghana ( email )

PO Box 25
Legon, LG
Ghana

Christopher Udry

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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