The relationship between mental health and social disadvantage in low- and middle-income countries is poorly understood. Our study contributes the first population-level analysis of mental health disparities in India, where the two marginalized groups that we study constitute a population larger than that of the USA. Applying two complementary empirical strategies to data on 10,125 adults interviewed by the World Health Organisation’s Survey of Global Ageing and Adult Health (WHO-SAGE), we document and standardize gaps in self-reported mental health between the dominant social group (higher caste Hindus) and two marginalized social groups (Scheduled Castes and Muslims). We find that differences in socioeconomic status cannot fully explain the large disparities in mental health that we document, especially for Muslims. Our results highlight the need for research to understand the causes and consequences of mental health disparities in India, and for policies to move beyond redistribution and address discrimination against Scheduled Castes and Muslims.
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We note that, because odds are ratios of probabilities, a uniform effect on odds could have different effects on probabilities that are low, moderate or high.
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Gupta, A., Coffey, D. Caste, Religion, and Mental Health in India. Popul Res Policy Rev 39, 1119–1141 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11113-020-09585-9