Manuela Angelucci (UT)
Kalai Family Workshop in Applied Microeconomics
Oct 8 2019
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"Depression and economic behavior: evidence from India"
Abstract: Depression is a persistent public health challenge in poor countries, with high prevalence and low treatment rates. We evaluate the individual and joint impacts of psychiatric care and employment support for adults with depression in Karnataka, India. We recruited a sample of 1000 depressed adults through community screening and cross-randomized participants to receive eight months of psychiatric care and/or assistance with job training and placement. We achieve 45-66 percent compliance and large improvements in mental health, which continue after the study ends. We find positive spillover effects on investment in children and indebtedness and no overall changes in participant earnings, time use, and household consumption. The effect sizes vary by treatment. The mental health improvements are highest when eligible for the joint treatments, while the spillover effects are highest when eligible for psychiatric care only. Our results are consistent with a depression poverty trap that curbs forward-looking behavior.