NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Frank Schilbach

MIT Department of Economics
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NBER Program Affiliations: DEV
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
Institutional Affiliation: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

NBER Working Papers and Publications

May 2020Poverty, Depression, and Anxiety: Causal Evidence and Mechanisms
with Matthew W. Ridley, Gautam Rao, Vikram H. Patel: w27157
Why are people living in poverty disproportionately affected by mental illness? We review the interdisciplinary evidence of the bi-directional causal relationship between poverty and common mental illnesses — depression and anxiety — and the underlying mechanisms. Research shows that mental illness reduces employment and therefore income and that psychological interventions generate economic gains. Similarly, negative economic shocks cause mental illness, and anti-poverty programs such as cash transfers improve mental health. A crucial next step toward the design of effective policies is to better understand the mechanisms underlying these causal effects.
February 2020The Economic Consequences of Increasing Sleep Among the Urban Poor
with Pedro Bessone, Gautam Rao, Heather Schofield, Mattie Toma: w26746
This paper measures sleep among the urban poor in India and estimates the economic returns to increased sleep. Adults in Chennai have strikingly low quantity and quality of sleep relative to typical guidelines: despite spending 8 hours in bed, they achieve only 5.6 hours per night of sleep, with 32 awakenings per night. A three-week treatment providing information, encouragement, and sleep-related items increased sleep quantity by 27 minutes per night without improving sleep quality. Increased night sleep had no detectable effects on cognition, productivity, decision-making, or psychological and physical well-being, and led to small decreases in labor supply and thus earnings. In contrast, offering high-quality naps at the workplace increased productivity, cognition, psychological well-be...
November 2017Poverty and Cognitive Function
with Emma Boswell Dean, Heather Schofield
in The Economics of Poverty Traps, Christopher B. Barrett, Michael R. Carter, and Jean-Paul Chavas, editors
This paper is a primer for economists interested in the relationship between poverty and cognitive function. We begin by discussing a set of underlying aspects of cognitive function relevant to economic decision-making – attention, inhibitory control, memory, and higher-order cognitive functions – including descriptions of validated tasks to measure each of these areas. Next, we review literature that investigates channels through which poverty might impact cognitive function and economic behavior, by discussing already existing knowledge as well as less well-researched areas that warrant further exploration. We then highlight ways in which the different aspects of cognitive function may impact economic outcomes, discussing both theoretical models and empirical evidence. Finally, we conclu...
 
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