Does depression make women more or less interested in sex?

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Depression is pervasive in the US particularly among women. The costs in terms of direct medical costs and forgone earnings are substantial. This paper investigates an additional cost of depression. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, we use a unique instrument, the attacks of September 11, which have been linked to depression, to identify the effect of depression on risky sexual behaviors. We find that depressed women are more likely to be sexually active, to engage in oral sex and to have sex without a condom, even after controlling for a rich set of covariates.

Source: “Identification of the Effect of Depression on Risky Sexual Behavior: Exploiting a Natural Experiment” from American Economic Review, Vol. 102, No. 3, May 2012

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