Maternal Depression,Women’s Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Large Randomized Control Trial

V Baranov, S Bhalotra, P Biroli, J Maselko

IZA Institute of Labor Economics | Published : 2017


We evaluate the long-term impact of treating maternal depression on women’s financial empowerment and parenting decisions. We leverage experimental variation induced by a cluster-randomized control trial that provided psychotherapy to perinatally depressed mothers in rural Pakistan. It was one of the largest psychotherapy interventions in the world, and the treatment was highly successful at reducing depression. We locate mothers seven years after the end of the intervention to evaluate its long-run effects. We find that the intervention increased women’s financial empowerment, increasing their control over household spending. Additionally, the intervention increased both time- and monetary-..

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University of Melbourne Researchers

Funding Acknowledgements

The authors thank Grand Challenges Canada for funding this research under their Saving Brains Program grant number 0058-03 and the Centre for Microsocial Change at ISER, Essex, for further support from the ESRC Centre grant ES/L009153/1. We are grateful to Atif Rahman, who designed the Thinking Health Program and led the implementation of the original trial, as well as Siham Sikander and his colleagues at the Human Development Research Foundation in Pakistan for implementing the original trial and the follow-up. We thank Atif Rahman and Siham Sikander for sharing the baseline and early follow-up data and for providing valuable insights. We received helpful feedback from Prashant Bharadwaj, David Byrne, Flavio Cunha, Alex Frankel, James Fenske, Johannes Haushofer, James Heckman, Anandi Mani, Satadru Mukherjee, Berk Ozler, Robert DeRubeis, Kjell Salvanes, Agne Suziedelyte, Marcos -Vera-Hernandez, and seminar participants at Oxford, IFS, Essex, Alicante, Odense, HCEO Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Hawaii, University of Sydney, University of Pennsylvania (Psychology), Princeton, MIT, and conference participants at CSAE, PacDev, NEUDC, ASSA, and RES. Jane Carroll, Peter Robertson, and Simona Sartor provided excellent research assistance. All errors and opinions are our own.

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