Journal Publications

A Hard Pill to Swallow? Parental Health Shocks and Children's Mental Health, with Gerald J. Pruckner

Health Economics, 2023, 32(12), 2768–2800.  


Based on comprehensive administrative health record data from Austria, this study examines how children's mental health responds to a severe parental health shock. To account for the endogeneity of a serious parental illness, our sample is restricted to children who experience the health shock of a parent at some point in time and we exploit the timing of shocks in a dynamic DID setting. We find a positive causal effect of parental health shocks on children's mental health care utilization. Affected children have higher medical attendance for the treatment of mental illnesses, consume more psychotropic drugs, and are more likely to be hospitalized with mental and behavioral disorders. A significant increase in the utilization of antidepressants, anxiolytics, and sedatives can be observed for older children, girls and children with a white-collar family background. Our findings have important policy implications for children's access to psychotherapies and mental health care after experiencing a traumatic household event. 

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Working Papers

Life After Loss: The Causal Effect of Parental Death on Daughters' Fertility, with Rene Wiesinger


We use high-quality administrative data from Austria to credibly identify the causal effect of parental death on daughters' fertility. To account for the endogeneity of parental death, we exploit the timing of deaths in a difference-in-differences research design. Parental death has no statistically significant effect on daughters' fertility, even in situations where the loss of informal childcare should be particularly pronounced. The absence of a fertility effect is strengthened by an extensive series of robustness checks and results on complementary outcomes, including labor market participation, place of residence, and mental health. Our findings suggest that women do not make significant adjustments to important life decisions after the loss of a parent. 

Working Paper Download (Version March 2024): [JKU Working Paper] 

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