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The Effects of Maternal Depression on Nine-Year-Old Children’s Behavior, Physical Health, and Cognition

Christine Porr and Kelly Noonan
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Christine Porr: Princeton University
Kelly Noonan: Princeton University

Working Papers from Princeton University, School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing.

Abstract: This paper investigates the effects of maternal depression, including its occurrence and chronicity, on nine-year-old children’s behavior, physical health, and cognition, as well as the extent to which five mechanisms explain the association between maternal depression’s chronicity and these outcomes. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), we conduct this analysis with ordinary least squares (OLS), instrumental variable (IV), and Lewbel IV regression models. We find that maternal depression significantly negatively impacts children’s behavior and physical health at age nine, while its relationship to their cognition remains ambiguous. These demonstrated effects increase in magnitude and significance with depression’s chronicity. Estimates indicate that economic hardship explains a significant portion of the association between maternal depression and all three categories of child outcomes, while mothering behaviors, co-parenting, and maternal health also play an important role for some outcomes. These findings provide support for potential policies for identifying depression early in its course, making appropriate treatment more financially viable for all individuals, and assisting children at-risk for or already suffering from behavioral and physical health problems.

JEL-codes: D19 D60 I00 J12 J13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hap and nep-neu
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https://fragilefamilies.princeton.edu/sites/fragilefamilies/files/wp18-08-ff.pdf

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