The Great Recession and Mental Health in the United States

Miriam K. Forbes, Robert F. Krueger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The full scope of the impact of the Great Recession on individuals’ mental health has not been quantified to date. In this study we aimed to determine whether financial, job-related, and housing impacts experienced by individuals during the recession predicted changes in the occurrence of symptoms of depression, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, and problematic alcohol use or other substance use. Longitudinal survey data (n = 2,530 to n = 3,293) from the national Midlife in the United States study that were collected before (2003–2004) and after (2012–2013) the Great Recession were analyzed. The population-level trend was toward improvements in mental health over time. However, for individuals, each recession impact experienced was associated with long-lasting and transdiagnostic declines in mental health. These relationships were stronger for some sociodemographic groups, which suggests the need for additional support for people who suffer marked losses during recessions and for those without a strong safety net.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-913
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse Grant T32-DA037183 (to M. K. Forbes), Australian Research Council Grant FL150100096, and a Macquarie University Research Fellowship. The Midlife in the United States study was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development and by National Institute on Aging Grants AG020166 and AG051426, including support for the work of R. F. Krueger on this project. The funding bodies that supported this research had no role in the study design; collection, analysis, or interpretation of data; the writing of the report; or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • Great Recession
  • global financial crisis
  • longitudinal research
  • mental health
  • open data


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