This Website uses cookies. By using this website you are agreeing to our use of cookies and to the terms and conditions listed in our data protection policy. Read more

American Economic Review

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

Journal Article
Persson, Petra and Maya Rossin-Slater (2018). “Family Ruptures, Stress, and the Mental Health of the Next Generation”. American Economic Review 108, 1214–1252.

Petra Persson, Maya Rossin-Slater

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 I12, J12, J13)