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

Petra Persson and Maya Rossin-Slater

American Economic Review, 2018, vol. 108, issue 4-5, 1214-52

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.

JEL-codes: I12 J12 J13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20141406
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Working Paper: Family Ruptures, Stress, and the Mental Health of the Next Generation (2016) Downloads
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