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Do remittances alleviate negative impacts of disaster on mental health? A case of the 2015 Nepal earthquake

Towa Tachibana, Rie Goto, Takeshi Sakurai, Santosh Rayamajhi, Angel Adhikari and William H. Dow

Social Science & Medicine, 2019, vol. 238, issue C, -

Abstract: This paper contributes to two strands of literature: disaster literature on post-disaster mental health and economics literature on migration. Remittances are a sizable source of income in many developing countries. Evidence suggests, however, that when adults migrate in order to support their families via remittances, family members left behind often experience poorer physical and mental health. We study the effects of remittances on the mental health of victims of a disaster, the earthquake (EQ) that hit Nepal in 2015. We used three waves of data from 335 individuals in 6 villages in Western Nepal in which emigration is prevalent. The first wave of the survey was conducted one year before the 2015 EQ. In the third wave, which was conducted one year after the EQ, the respondents aged 15 and older were assessed for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depressive symptoms. PTSD symptoms were evaluated by the 17-item Checklist Civilian (PCL-C), and depressive symptoms were measured by the 20-question Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scales (CESD) questionnaire. In order to avoid capturing the impacts of remittances for daily expenses and reduce possible endogeneity in the remittance variables, we measured the change in remittances following the EQ. After controlling for pre-disaster body-mass index and asset holdings, we found that the increase in remittances sent to HHs reduced psychological distress measured by the PTSD and depression severity scores. The remittance variables, however, did not alleviate mental disorder as defined by the international-standard cutoff points of PCL-C and CES-D.

Keywords: Disaster; Earthquake; Nepal; Remittances; PTSD; Depression (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.112460

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