Corruption and Mental Health: Evidence from Vietnam

Research output: Working paperResearch

While there is substantial corruption in developing countries, the costs imposed bycorruption on individuals and households are little understood. This study examinesthe relationship between exposure to local corruption and mental health, as measuredby depressive symptoms. We use two large data sets – one cross-sectional and onepanel – collected across rural Vietnam. After controlling for individual and regionalcharacteristics, we find strong and consistent evidence that day-to-day petty corruptionis positively associated with psychological distress. Our results are robust to a varietyof specification checks. Further, we find that the relationship between corruption andmental health is stronger for women, and that there are no heterogeneous effects bypoverty status. An examination of the underlying mechanisms shows that reductionsin income and trust associated with higher corruption may play a role. Finally, using adifference-in-difference estimation strategy, we also provide suggestive evidence that arecent high profile anti-corruption campaign had significant positive effects on mentalhealth. Overall, our findings indicate that there may be substantial psychosocial andmental health benefits from efforts to reduce corruption and improve rural governancestructures.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2020
SeriesPublications of the Development Economic Research Group (DERG)

ID: 254468549