NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Mental Health Stigma

Prashant Bharadwaj, Mallesh M. Pai, Agne Suziedelyte

NBER Working Paper No. 21240
Issued in June 2015
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Economics

Comparing self-reports to administrative data records on diagnosis and prescription drug use, we find that survey respondents under-report mental health conditions 36% of the time when asked about diagnosis and about 20% of the time when asked about prescription drug use. Survey respondents are significantly less likely to under-report other conditions such as diabetes or hypertension. This behavior is consistent with a model in which mental health illnesses are stigmatized and agents have incentives to hide such traits from others. We show that differential under-reporting of depression is correlated with age, gender, and ethnicity and that these characteristics also predict a lower probability of mental health treatment, suggesting that stigma can play an important role in determining health-seeking behavior.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21240

Published: Prashant Bharadwaj & Mallesh M. Pai & Agne Suziedelyte, 2017. "Mental health stigma," Economics Letters, vol 159, pages 57-60. citation courtesy of

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