PhD Studies Hurt Mental Health, but Less Than You Think

16 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2022

See all articles by Matti Keloharju

Matti Keloharju

Aalto University School of Business; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Samuli Knüpfer

Aalto University School of Business; BI Norwegian Business School; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Dagmar Müller

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Joacim Tåg

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Hanken School of Economics

Date Written: September 13, 2022

Abstract

We study the mental health of PhD students in Sweden using comprehensive administrative data on prescriptions, specialist care visits, hospitalizations, and causes of death. We find about 7% (5%) of PhD students receive medication or diagnosis for depression (anxiety) in a given year. These prevalence rates are less than one-third of the corresponding survey-based prevalence rates reported in the literature, and even after adjusting for difference in methodology, 44% (72%) of the prevalence rates reported in the literature. We also document PhD students’ mental health significantly worsens relative to their peers after they have entered the program. This deterioration is consistent with doctoral studies having a negative causal effect on mental health.

Note:
Funding Information: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland (Grant 319316 to M.K.) and Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg foundation (Grant 2020.0049 to J.T.).

Conflict of Interests: None.

Ethical Approval: The project was approved by the Regional Ethical Review Board of Stockholm, Statistics Sweden, and the National Board of Health and Welfare.

Keywords: doctoral studies; mental health; depression; anxiety; suicide

Suggested Citation

Keloharju, Matti and Knüpfer, Samuli and Müller, Dagmar and Tåg, Joacim, PhD Studies Hurt Mental Health, but Less Than You Think (September 13, 2022). IFN Working Paper No. 1435, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4190289 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4190289

Matti Keloharju

Aalto University School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 21210
AALTO, FI-00076
Finland

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

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

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Samuli Knüpfer

Aalto University School of Business

P.O. Box 21210
AALTO, 00076
Finland

HOME PAGE: http://www.samuliknupfer.com

BI Norwegian Business School ( email )

Nydalsveien 37
Oslo, 0442
Norway

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

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

Dagmar Müller

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

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

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

Joacim Tåg (Contact Author)

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

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

Hanken School of Economics ( email )

PB 287
Helsinki, Vaasa 65101
Finland

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