Date Thesis Awarded

4-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Economics

Advisor

Jennifer Mellor

Committee Members

Katie Lopresti

Peter McHenry

Abstract

I examine the mental health and general health effects of providing informal care for one’s spouse using data from the Health and Retirement Study in the United States. Prior research has focused on children providing care for parents. In this paper, I provide the first analysis of these health effects among U.S. adults who provide care for their spouses. Using propensity score matching, I find that caregiving leads to an increase in depressive symptoms. Results are particularly strong and significant for female caregivers. I find that symptoms of depression increase with the intensity of caregiving. I find no evidence that caregiving leads to worse self-assessed health. This research is relevant to understanding the net benefit of informal caregiving in the context of the U.S. healthcare system.

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