Early life circumstance and adult mental health

Type Working Paper - University of Oxford, Department of Economics Working Papers
Title Early life circumstance and adult mental health
Issue 698
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
URL https://ideas.repec.org/p/oxf/wpaper/698.html
We show that psychological well-being in adulthood varies substantially with circumstance
in early life. Combining a time series of real producer prices of cocoa with
a nationally representative household survey in Ghana, we find that a one standard
deviation rise in the cocoa price in early life decreases the likelihood of severe mental
distress in adulthood by 3 percentage points (or half the mean prevalence) for cohorts
born in cocoa-producing regions relative to those born in other regions. Impacts on related
personality traits are consistent with this result. Maternal nutrition, reinforcing
childhood investments, and adult circumstance are operative channels of impact.

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