Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2020:13: Peer Gender and Mental Health

Demid Getik () and Armando Meier ()
Additional contact information
Demid Getik: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Armando Meier: University of Lausanne

Abstract: Adolescent mental health is key for later well-being. Yet, causal evidence on environmental drivers of adolescent mental health is scant. We study how an important classroom feature - the gender composition in compulsory-school - affects mental health. We use Swedish administrative data (N=576,285) to link variation in gender composition across classrooms within cohorts to mental health. We find that a higher share of female peers in a classroom increases the incidence of mental health diagnoses, particularly among boys. The effect persists into adulthood. Peer composition is thus an important and persistent driver of mental health.

Keywords: gender; peer effects; mental health

JEL-codes: I12; I19; I21; I31; J16; J24

55 pages, First version: July 17, 2020. Revised: September 24, 2021.

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