D4 Published development or research report or study
Dark Passage : Mental Health Consequences of Parental Death (2021)

Böckerman, P., Haapanen, M., & Jepsen, C. (2021). Dark Passage : Mental Health Consequences of Parental Death. IZA Institute of Labor Economics. IZA Discussion Papers, 14385. https://docs.iza.org/dp14385.pdf

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Böckerman, Petri; Haapanen, Mika; Jepsen, Christopher

Journal or series: IZA Discussion Papers

eISSN: 2365-9793

Publication year: 2021

Number in series: 14385

Number of pages in the book: 58

Publisher: IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Place of Publication: Bonn

Publication country: Germany

Publication language: English

Persistent website address: https://docs.iza.org/dp14385.pdf

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Web address of parallel published publication (pre-print): http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3855949


This paper studies the causal effect of parental death on children's mental health. Combining several nationwide register-based data for Finnish citizens born between 1971 and 1986, we use an event study methodology to analyze hospitalization for mental health-related reasons by the age of 30. We find that there is no clear evidence of increased hospitalization following the death of a parent of a different gender, but there are significant effects for boys losing their fathers and girls losing their mothers. Depression is the most common cause of hospitalization in the first three years following paternal death, whereas anxiety and, to a lesser extent, self-harm are the most common causes five to ten years after paternal death. We also provide descriptive evidence of an increase in the use of mental health-related medications and sickness absence, as well as substantial reductions in years of schooling, employment, and earnings in adulthood for the affected children.

Keywords: parents; death; effects (results); employees; psychological effects; mental health; mental disorders; depression (mental disorders); grief; grief work; sickness absences; hospital care; labour market

Free keywords: parental death; mental health; hospitalization; depression; labor market

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

Last updated on 2022-19-08 at 19:41