Anti-Depressants, Unemployment and Disability


The specific aim of this project is to understand how the widespread adoption of the new generation of anti-depressants known collectively as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors has affected labor market outcomes.


Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors allev iate depression with fewer side-effects than previolls antidepressants. The results have been a tremendous increase in the will ingness of patients to seek, and doctors to prescribe, antidepressants for episod ic bouts of depression. SSRl's were first introduced in 1984 in West Germany and spl-ead throughout the world, with countries differing both in their year of approval and the diffus ion of the drug subsequent to its approval. By 2000 SS RIs were widely used throughout much of the world, with countries sllch as the US sell ing 15 doses per capita, implying that approximately 1 in 25 were using SSRIs. To understand the benefit of th is vast rise in mental health treatment, it is useful to examine how labor force outcomes have changed with access to SSRIs. To the extent that the unemployed suffer from depression that reduces their job search productivity, SSRIs may inc rease search productivity, thereby reducing unemployment duration. This paper uses cross-country variation in laws governing the use of SSRIs to assess the impact of SS RIs on unemployment duration and disability ro lls. In this paper we use data from 26 countries for up to 25 years to estimate the effect of SSRI sales on unemployment rates and disability rates using just the va ri ation in SSRI sales that can be explained by cross-country va riation in the growth of drug sales more generally.

Funded By: 
Award Dates: 
July 1, 2008 - June 30, 2009
PARC Grant Year: 
Year 15