Psychiatric Disorders and Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from the National Latino and Asian American Study

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Health Economics (Impact Factor: 2.23). 10/2007; 16(10):1069-90. DOI: 10.1002/hec.1210
Source: PubMed


This paper investigates to what extent psychiatric disorders and mental distress affect labor market outcomes in two rapidly growing populations that have not been studied to date-ethnic minorities of Latino and Asian descent, most of whom are immigrants. Using data from the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS), we examine the labor market effects of meeting diagnostic criteria for any psychiatric disorder in the past 12 months as well as the effects of psychiatric distress in the past year. The labor market outcomes analyzed are current employment status, the number of weeks worked in the past year among those who are employed, and having at least one work absence in the past month among those who are employed. Among Latinos, psychiatric disorders and mental distress are associated with detrimental effects on employment and absenteeism, similar to effects found in previous analyses of mostly white, American born populations. Among Asians, we find more mixed evidence that psychiatric disorders and mental distress detract from labor market outcomes. Our findings suggest that reducing disparities and expanding access to effective treatment may have significant labor market benefits-not just for majority populations, as has been demonstrated, but also for Asians and Latinos.

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    • "African Americans and Latinos are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than non-Hispanic Whites (NHWs) [12, 13]. Asian Americans have lower rates of mental illness, when compared to Latinos [14]. The lower mental health burden among racial minorities is surprising given, minorities have less access to health care [15], lower socioeconomic status [16] and tend face higher levels of race-based discrimination [17], all of which are linked to poorer health. "
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