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Dr Peter Loewen, Toronto

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Peter Loewen (University of Toronto) will present ‘Political Leaders with Depression are Punished by voters: results from experiments in two countries’ in a NICEP/CeDEx collaboration seminar on 1 March.


Depression is the number one cause of disability in America, and an enduring preoccupation for scholars of global health and public policy. This study sets out to estimate the extent to which a public diagnosis of depression affects one’s chances of being selected for higher office. We take advantage of the peculiarity of democratic politics, where candidate selection depends on popular approval. Our research design relies on survey experiments in which subjects are randomly assigned to candidate biographies, some of which containing information on medical conditions. We invited subjects to choose between these candidates and evaluate their personality. We find clear evidence of the existence of a stigma: candidates with depression suffer from a roughly 10 percentage point disadvantage compared to candidates coping with a physical illness. This effect transits in large part via negative evaluations of a depressive individuals’ character traits.




Date(s) - 01 Mar 2018
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

A11 Highfield House