Depression and Loneliness among the Elderly in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
AbstractWe combine data from longitudinal surveys in seven low- and middle-income countries (plus the United States for comparison) to document that depressive symptoms among those aged 55 and above are prevalent in those countries and, unlike in the United States, increase sharply with age. Depressive symptoms in one survey wave are associated with a greater decline in ability to carry out basic daily activities and a higher probability of death in the next wave. Using additional data from a panel survey we conducted in Tamil Nadu with a focus on elderly living alone, we document that social isolation, poverty, and physical health challenges are strongly correlated with depression. We discuss potential policy interventions in these three domains, including some results from our randomized control trials in the Tamil Nadu sample.
CitationBanerjee, Abhijit, Esther Duflo, Erin Grela, Madeline McKelway, Frank Schilbach, Garima Sharma, and Girija Vaidyanathan. 2023. "Depression and Loneliness among the Elderly in Low- and Middle-Income Countries." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 37 (2): 179-202. DOI: 10.1257/jep.37.2.179
- I12 Health Behavior
- I18 Health: Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
- J14 Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-labor Market Discrimination
- O15 Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration