IZA DP No. 11187: Maternal Depression, Women's Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Large Randomized Control Trial
American Economic Review, March 2020. Video: https://youtu.be/gFbFi7LTWaI. AER Research Highlights: https://www.aeaweb.org/research/maternal-depression-cognitive-behavioral-therapy
We evaluate the long-term impact of treating maternal depression on women's financial empowerment and parenting decisions. We leverage experimental variation induced by a cluster-randomized control trial that provided psychotherapy to perinatally depressed mothers in rural Pakistan. It was one of the largest psychotherapy interventions in the world, and the treatment was highly successful at reducing depression. We locate mothers seven years after the end of the intervention to evaluate its long-run effects. We find that the intervention increased women's financial empowerment, increasing their control over household spending. Additionally, the intervention increased both time- and monetary-intensive parental investments, with increases in investments tending to favor girls.