Mental Health and the Labor Market
This session will focus on the relationship between mental health and labor market choices and outcomes. The first paper (Cronin and Papageorge) specifies a dynamic structural model of mental illness, treatment, and labor supply, which should provide a baseline theoretical model that is applicable to all papers discussed in the session. The purpose of this paper is to explore the tradeoffs (e.g., monetary costs, time costs, health benefits, future labor market implications) patients face when deciding between psychotherapy and pharmaceuticals as treatment alternatives for mental illness. The second paper (Darden and Harris) adds the concept of work-related stress to the baseline model. Specifically, they estimate compensating differentials for stressful job characteristics using a model of occupation choice. The third paper (Darden and Gollu) adds to the discussion the role that insurance plays in the employment decision, an important relationship neglected in the earlier two papers. This paper explores the channels through which the dependent coverage provision of the ACA may impact mental health. The authors find that the ACA improves mental health for young adults, but through an unexpected channel – the ACA lowers the cost of unemployment, which improves mental health even for those who possessed health insurance prior to the law.