Insights on unemployment, unemployment insurance, and mental health

J Health Econ. 2011 Mar;30(2):258-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2011.01.006. Epub 2011 Jan 26.


This paper contributes to the growing literature on the relationship between business cycles and mental health. It is one of the first applications in the economics literature to incorporate data on web searches from Google Insights for Search, and these unique data allow the opportunity to estimate the association between weekly unemployment insurance (UI) claims, in addition to monthly unemployment rates, and search indexes for "depression" and "anxiety". Results from state fixed effects models yield (1) a positive relationship between the unemployment rate and the depression search index and (2) a negative relationship between initial UI claims on the one hand and the depression and anxiety search indexes on the other. A lag analysis also shows that an extended period of higher levels of continued UI claims is associated with a higher depression search index.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Economic Recession
  • Empirical Research
  • Humans
  • Insurance Benefits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors
  • Unemployment / psychology*
  • Unemployment / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology