Eudora Ribeiro, 12 August 2020

Fear and imposed isolation due to COVID-19 have raised alarms about the impact on mental health on a global scale. The severe anticipated global recession and substantial increases in unemployment and indebtedness are both risk factors for suicide. This column reviews past similar scenarios of pandemics and recessions and its links to suicide. The recipe for preventing suicide amidst the COVID-19 pandemic includes investment in mental healthcare, such as providing suicide prevention services, and active employment policies.

Eiji Yamamura, Yoshiro Tsutsui, 22 June 2020

Japan has had relatively few victims of COVID-19, even though the Japanese government has adopted more modest measures than other nations. Nonetheless, the pandemic has been a substantial strain on citizens' mental health, which may have triggered rises in domestic violence. This column presents evidence from various Japanese prefectures, focusing on people’s mental wellbeing before and after the state of emergency was declared. Results indicate that the announcement led citizens to take preventive steps, but caused them to experience certain heightened emotions. Crucially, the importance of mental healthcare should not be overlooked as an additional policy consideration.  

Annie Tubadji, Don Webber, Frederic Boy, 10 June 2020

The general public’s mental health can be affected by different public policy responses to a pandemic threat. Italy, the UK and Sweden implemented distinct approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic: early lockdown, delayed lockdown, and no lockdown. This column presents a novel culture-based Development approach using narrative economics of language and Google trend data. It is evident that countries had a pre-existing culturally relative dispositions towards death-related anxiety and their sensitivity to COVID-19 public policy was country-specific. Further, one country’s lockdown policy can affect another country’s mental health, suggesting that policymakers should account for this spillover effect.

Anne Case, 17 February 2020

Anne Case traces the rise in 'deaths of despair' in the US back to stagnating wages and the contracting out by firms of low-skilled jobs to avoid high health insurance costs

Matteo Picchio, Jan van Ours, 02 February 2020

Retirement is a major professional and personal milestone, and the welfare effects are varied and complex. This column exploits data from the Netherlands to investigate the impact on mental health. While retirement appears to have positive mental health effects for partnered men and their partners, the effects are often negative for single men. For both partnered and single women, retiring appears to have fewer mental health implications. The findings suggest that allowing for greater overall flexibility in the retirement process could have welfare-improving effects.

Kacie Dragan, Ingrid Gould Ellen, Sherry Glied, 19 September 2019

The pace of gentrification in US cities has accelerated, but little evidence exists on its impact on low-income children. This column uses Medicaid claims data to examine how gentrification affects children’s health and wellbeing in New York City. It finds that low-income children born in areas that gentrify are no more likely to move than those born in areas that don't gentrify, and those that do move tend to end up living in areas of lower poverty. Moreover, gentrification does not appear to dramatically alter the health status or health-system utilisation of children by age 9–11, although children growing up in gentrifying areas show somewhat elevated levels of anxiety and depression.

Janet Currie, 24 January 2019

Janet Currie of Princeton University discusses how increasing access to health care prenatally and in early childhood reduces deaths and leads to long-term improvements in child and young adult outcomes.

Yi Chen, Hanming Fang, 03 October 2018

The first group of the cohorts affected by China’s ‘Later, Fewer, Longer’ campaign, which led to the rapid decline of China’s total fertility rate, are now entering their sixties. This column evaluates the long-term consequences of China’s family planning policies on the quality of life of the Chinese elderly. The results suggest that while family planning has either no effect or a slightly positive effect on elderly parents’ physical health status, parents who are more exposed to family planning policies report significantly worse mental health.

Richard Layard, 17 October 2016

What is one of the biggest causes of low well-being in the UK? Richard Layard explains why treating mental illnesses should be on the public agenda. This video was recorded at the Centre for Economic Performance in September 2014.
 

Isamu Yamamoto, 14 October 2016

There is ample empirical evidence showing that poor mental health is increasing, but the impact of this on long-run productivity and its implications for the labour market are not well researched. This column outlines two ways in which labour market research can contribute to the study of the impact on mental health of working conditions. It also identifies several channels related to working conditions that affect mental health, and argues that deteriorating mental health adversely affects corporate performance in the long run.

Italo Colantone, Rosario Crinò, Laura Ogliari, 04 December 2015

Influential studies have shown that trade liberalisation is associated with substantial adjustment costs for workers in import-competing jobs. This column uses UK data to shed light on one such cost that has not been considered to date – subjective well-being. Import competition is found to substantially raise mental distress, through worsened labour market conditions and increased stress on the job. These findings provide evidence of an important hidden cost of globalisation.

Prashant Bharadwaj, Mallesh Pai, Agne Suziedelyte, 03 July 2015

Fear of stigmatisation might lead to hiding of behaviours and actions. This column presents evidence that stigma concerns can play a role in health seeking behaviour in the case of mental health. In particular, survey respondents under-report mental health conditions 36% of the time when asked about mental health conditions, and about 20% of the time when asked about prescription drug use. Conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are less likely to be under-reported.

Sarah Stewart-Brown, 11 November 2012

Eating fruit and vegetables could be good for your mental health. This column explores the evidence, arguing that better surveys need to be carried out if we are to accurately establish causality. If we can understand how mental health is linked to diet, the benefits to the public – and those who decide public policy – could be huge.

Jan van Ours, Jenny Williams, 19 September 2009

There is growing evidence of a link between mental health problems and cannabis use. Is it causal? This column shows that cannabis use, particularly frequent use, does have an adverse effect on mental health. Unobserved factors that make individuals more likely to use cannabis do also make them more susceptible to mental illness, but using marijuana has an additional causal impact.

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