“Mental health and women’s choices. Experimental evidence from a Randomized Control Trial. “
Abstract: We evaluate the long-term impact of treating maternal depression on women’s financial empowerment and parenting decisions by exploiting experimental variation induced by a cluster-randomized control trial which provided psychotherapy to perinatally depressed mothers in rural Pakistan. The trial, which is the largest psychotherapy trial in the world, was highly successful at reducing depression rates of mothers. We relocate mothers 6 years after the intervention concluded to evaluate the effects of the intervention on women’s financial empowerment, parental investments, fertility, as well as children development. We find that treating maternal depression increased women’s empowerment, particularly control over spending, both in the short-run and in the long-run. Consistent with the reports of increased control over spending, we find persistent effects of the intervention on both time- and monetary-intensive parental investment. We do not find any detectable effect on children development. The long-run treatment effects are concentrated among girls.