Dark Passage: Mental Health Consequences of Parental Death

60 Pages Posted: 29 May 2021

See all articles by Petri Bockerman

Petri Bockerman

Labour Institute for Economic Research; University of Turku - Turku School of Economics

Mika Haapanen

University of Jyväskylä - School of Business and Economics

Christopher Jepsen

University College Dublin (UCD)

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Abstract

This paper studies the causal effect of parental death on children's mental health. Combining several nationwide register-based data for Finnish citizens born between 1971 and 1986, we use an event study methodology to analyze hospitalization for mental health-related reasons by the age of 30. We find that there is no clear evidence of increased hospitalization following the death of a parent of a different gender, but there are significant effects for boys losing their fathers and girls losing their mothers. Depression is the most common cause of hospitalization in the first three years following paternal death, whereas anxiety and, to a lesser extent, self-harm are the most common causes five to ten years after paternal death. We also provide descriptive evidence of an increase in the use of mental health-related medications and sickness absence, as well as substantial reductions in years of schooling, employment, and earnings in adulthood for the affected children.

JEL Classification: I10, I12, J12, J13

Suggested Citation

Bockerman, Petri and Haapanen, Mika and Jepsen, Christopher, Dark Passage: Mental Health Consequences of Parental Death. IZA Discussion Paper No. 14385, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3855949

Petri Bockerman (Contact Author)

Labour Institute for Economic Research ( email )

FIN-00530 Helsinki
Finland
+358 9 2535 7332 (Phone)
+358 9 2535 7332 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.petribockerman.fi/

University of Turku - Turku School of Economics ( email )

Rehtorinpellonkatu 3
TURKU, FI-20500
Finland

Mika Haapanen

University of Jyväskylä - School of Business and Economics ( email )

University of Jyväskylä
PO Box 35
FIN 40351, FIN-40014
Finland

Christopher Jepsen

University College Dublin (UCD) ( email )

Belfield
Belfield, Dublin 4 4
Ireland

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