Editor’s note: The full version of this paper is published in Health Economics (subscription required).
This paper assesses the effects of different health conditions on happiness. Based on new data for Latin America, we examine the effects of different conditions across age, gender, and income cohorts. Anxiety and pain have stronger effects than physical problems, likely because people adapt better to one-time shocks than to constant uncertainty. The negative effects of health conditions are very large when compared with the effects of income on happiness. And, while higher peer income typically elicits envy, better peer health provides positive signals for life and health satisfaction. Health norms vary widely across countries.
[In North Korea], psychiatric conditions are often considered to be the patient's fault and a source of deep shame for for friends and family. Psychiatric conditions are also inextricably tied to politics and ultimately the country's caste system, known as "songbun".
Mental health and politics have become conflated. If you come from a questionable line in terms of your political loyalty, then it's sometimes believed that you're more prone toward mental health disorders than you are if you come from a revolutionary line.