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The Impact of Mother's Depression on Child Development

This paper investigates the causal impact of a mother's mental health on the cognitive and noncognitive development of children. Utilizing nationally representative data that follows a cohort of kindergartens to fifth-grade, I employ a dynamic panel model designed to deal with the endogeneity of a mother's mental health: time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity that causes correlation in multiple observations on the same individual and correlation with the unobserved heterogeneity results in mother's mental health biases endogeneously. I find negative effects on all assessed skills, math, reading and noncognitive skills, with the most substantial effects observed in noncognitive skills. The results show one standard deviation increase in mother's depression decreases 0.27, 0.47, and 0.74 in the child's math, reading and noncognitive test scores, respectively. Typically 1 year of school learning is 0.25 in math, 0.20 in reading. and 0 to 0.4 for noncognitive skills. Additionally, the effect is more pronounced among single mothers, especially in children's math test scores.


Applied microeconomics, Child development, Mental Health

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