Type of Publication: Article in Journal

Bounding the causal effect of unemployment on mental health: Nonparametric evidence from four countries

Cygan‐Rehm, Kamila; Kuehnle, Daniel; Oberfichtner, Michael
Title of Journal:
Health Economics
Volume (Publication Date):
2017 (2017)
Number of Issue:
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
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An important, yet unsettled, question in public health policy is the extent to which unemployment causally impacts mental health. The recent literature yields varying findings, which are likely due to differences in data, methods, samples, and institutional settings. Taking a more general approach, we provide comparable evidence for four countries with different institutional settings—Australia, Germany, the UK, and the United States—using a nonparametric bounds analysis. Relying on fairly weak and partially testable assumptions, our paper shows that unemployment has a significant negative effect on mental health in all countries. Our results rule out effects larger than a quarter of a standard deviation for Germany and half a standard deviation for the Anglo‐Saxon countries. The effect is significant for both men and women and materialises already for short periods of unemployment. Public policy should hence focus on early prevention of mental health problems among the unemployed.

Work in progress (selection)

- Do pictorial warnings on tobacco products affect health outcomes?

- Can a housing-led intensive support program improve the housing, health, and service outcomes of the chronically homeless?  (with Guy Johnson and Yi-Ping Tseng)

- How does parental education affect their children's mental health?  (with Patrick Sturm)

- Media campaigns and smoking (with Simon Reif)

- Distance to GPs and emergency hospital usage (with Ingo Kolodziej and Simon Reif)

- A Firm-side Perspective on Parental Leave Absences (with Mathias Huebener, Jonas Jessen and Michael Oberfichtner)

- The effects of a conditional home care subsidy on maternal employment,  child care choices, and children's development (with Matthias Collischon and Michael Oberfichtner)

- Does paternity leave promote gender equality in the labour market? (with Max Kunaschk and Michael Oberfichtner