Project in detail

The Effect of Children on Depression in Old Age

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Recent decades have witnessed a considerable increase in the diagnoses of mental illnesses. The most frequently diagnosed conditions include depression in the elderly. This project looks into social causes underlying these illnesses. The previous literature has, for example, brought to light correlations between human environmental conditions and mental health. To date, however, the causal mechanisms behind such correlations often remain less well-understood. We therefore focus on the elaboration of causal agents in seeking to explain psychological disorders. This project deals with the correlation between fertility and the probability of developing depression in old age, thereby drawing upon SHARE data for the analysis. The key novelty here is the use of instrumental variables to determine the number of children, making it possible to identify causal effects. Initial results indicate that large numbers of children had do not correlate with a lower probability of depression in advanced age. Under certain circumstances, additional children even heighten the risk of mental illness. The results of this project have been published in "Social Science & Medicine".

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