Business ‘Psych’cles: A Close Look at Mental Health and State-level Economic Performance Using Google Search Data

Daniel Farhat, Tarja Viitanen

Abstract


This paper looks at the mental health of US consumers and the state-level economy between 2004 and 2014. To better capture the mental condition of Americans, we use internet query data for select psychological keywords. We evaluate the seasonal fluctuations in this data and compare the broader trends to indices of economic misery. Our results reaffirm a seasonal period of despair from late autumn to early spring. Further, we show that economic misfortune is positively related to online interest in psychological health. The results provide valuable input to public health providers for forming now-casts of mental health needs and to health policy-makers for forming spatially- and temporally-targeted mental health initiatives.

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