PhD Studies Hurt Mental Health, But Less than Previously Feared

Matti Keloharju, Samuli Knüpfer, Dagmar Müller, Joacim Tåg

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


We study the mental health of PhD students in Sweden using comprehensive administrative data on prescriptions, specialist care visits, hospitalizations, and causes of death. We find about 7% (5%) of PhD students receive medication or diagnosis for depression (anxiety) in a given year. These prevalence rates are less than one-third of the earlier reported survey-based estimates, and even after adjusting for difference in methodology, 43% (72%) of the rates in the literature. Nevertheless, PhD students still fare worse than their peers not pursuing graduate studies. Our difference-in-differences research design can attribute at least 80% of this health disadvantage to the time in the PhD program. This deterioration suggests doctoral studies causally affect mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationStockholm
PublisherIFN - Research Institute of Industrial Economics
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

Publication series

NameIFN Working Paper


  • 511 Economics
  • doctoral studies
  • mental health
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • suicide


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