Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1435: PhD Studies Hurt Mental Health, But Less than You Think

Matti Keloharju, Samuli Knüpfer, Dagmar Müller and Joacim Tåg ()
Additional contact information
Matti Keloharju: Aalto University, Postal: and Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Samuli Knüpfer: Aalto U(niversity School of Business, Postal: and Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Dagmar Müller: Swedish Public Employment Service
Joacim Tåg: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: We study the mental health of PhD students in Sweden using comprehensive administrative data on prescriptions, specialist care visits, hospitalizations, and causes of death. We find about 7% (5%) of PhD students receive medication or diagnosis for depression (anxiety) in a given year. These prevalence rates are less than one-third of the corresponding survey-based prevalence rates reported in the literature, and even after adjusting for difference in methodology, 44% (72%) of the prevalence rates reported in the literature. We also document PhD students’ mental health significantly worsens relative to their peers after they have entered the program. This deterioration is consistent with doctoral studies having a negative causal effect on mental health.

Keywords: Doctoral studies; Mental Health; Depression; Anxiety; Suicide

JEL-codes: A23; I10; I23; I29; I31

Language: English

15 pages, August 12, 2022

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