A1 Journal article (refereed)
Dark Passage : Mental Health Consequences of Parental Death (2023)

Böckerman, P., Haapanen, M., & Jepsen, C. (2023). Dark Passage : Mental Health Consequences of Parental Death. American Journal of Health Economics, 9(4), 584-604. https://doi.org/10.1086/723598

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsBöckerman, Petri; Haapanen, Mika; Jepsen, Christopher

Journal or seriesAmerican Journal of Health Economics



Publication year2023

Publication date11/10/2023


Issue number4

Pages range584-604

PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press

Publication countryUnited States

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/92540


We study the effects of parental death on children’s mental health. Combining nationwide administrative data for Finnish citizens born between 1971 and 1986, we utilize an event study methodology to analyze hospitalization for mental health–related reasons by the age of 30. We find no clear evidence of increased hospitalization following the death of a parent of a different sex, but there are significant effects for boys losing their fathers and, to a lesser extent, girls losing their mothers. We analyze the effects in a country that has committed substantial financial resources to implement school health care for all pupils. In countries where such policies do not exist or where the coverage of primary health-care services in schools is not universal, the negative effects on mental health may arguably be even larger.

Keywordsdeathparentschildren (family members)mental healthmental disorderspsychiatric carehospital care

Free keywordsparental death; mental health; hospitalization

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2023

Preliminary JUFO rating2

Last updated on 2024-03-04 at 18:37