Psychological Well-being and Health Gains in the Developing World: Evidence from Peru and Malawi

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In this dissertation, I assess the relationship between psychological well-being and health gains in Peru and Malawi. The first chapter consists of a comprehensive and systematic examination of research that frames the quantitative analyses found in the second and third chapters. It investigates literature on the relationship between maternal well-being and multiple dimensions of health in children and adolescents. It also explains how maternal depression may interact with poverty to worsen offspring’s outcomes. Then, it explores literature on the association between catastrophic health expenditure in Malawi and two of its potential predictors: unexplained happiness and access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), a treatment regimen for people living with HIV/AIDS. The second chapter assesses the impacts of maternal depression and life satisfaction on children in Peru. Using panel data from rounds three (2009-2010) and four (2013-2014) of Young Lives Peru, I find that children’s self-reported life satisfaction and health positively correlate with maternal life satisfaction and negatively associate with maternal depression. Furthermore, maternal life satisfaction predicts whether a female adolescent smokes, while maternal depression predicts smoking behavior and misinformation on pregnancy amongst male adolescents. The third chapter investigates the relationships between household catastrophic health expenditure in Malawi and two predictors, antiretroviral therapy (ART) and unexplained happiness. Using data from round two (2004-2005) and round three (2010-2011) of Malawi’s Integrated Household Survey, I find that proximity to ART-providing clinics and higher levels of psychological well-being associate with reduced likelihood of catastrophic health expenditure.