NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Adolescent Depression and Adult Labor Market Outcomes

Jason M. Fletcher

NBER Working Paper No. 18216
Issued in July 2012
NBER Program(s):   CH   HE   LS

This paper uses recently released data from a national longitudinal sample to present new evidence of the longer term effects of adolescent depression on labor market outcomes. Results suggest reductions in labor force attachment of approximately 5 percentage points and earnings reductions of approximately 20% for individuals with depressive symptoms as an adolescent. These effects are only partially reduced when controlling for channels operating through educational attainment, adult depressive symptoms, or co-occurring illnesses. Further, the unique structure of the data allows for high-school fixed effects as well as suggestive evidence using sibling comparisons, which allows controls for potentially important unobserved heterogeneity. Overall, the results suggest that the links between adolescent depression and labor market outcomes are quite robust and important in magnitude, suggesting that there may be substantial labor market returns to further investments in treatment opportunities during adolescence.

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Published: Jason Fletcher, 2013. "Adolescent Depression and Adult Labor Market Outcomes," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 26-49, July.

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