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Scarring or Scaring? The Psychological Impact of Past Unemployment and Future Unemployment Risk

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  • ANDREAS KNABE
  • STEFFEN RÄTZEL

Abstract

We reassess the "scarring" hypothesis by Clark et al. (2001), which states that unemployment experienced in the past reduces a person’s current life satisfaction even after the person has become reemployed. Our results suggest that the scar from past unemployment operates via worsened expectations of becoming unemployed in the future, and that it is future insecurity that makes people unhappy. Hence, the terminology should be altered by one letter: past unemployment "scars" because it "scares".
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Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Knabe & Steffen Rätzel, 2011. "Scarring or Scaring? The Psychological Impact of Past Unemployment and Future Unemployment Risk," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 78(310), pages 283-293, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:78:y:2011:i:310:p:283-293
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
    2. Andrew E. Clark, 2003. "Unemployment as a Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 289-322, April.
    3. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
    4. Clark, Andrew E & Georgellis, Yannis & Sanfey, Peter, 2001. "Scarring: The Psychological Impact of Past Unemployment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(270), pages 221-241, May.
    5. Frey, Bruno S & Stutzer, Alois, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 918-938, October.
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    11. Korpi, Tomas, 1997. "Is utility related to employment status? Employment, unemployment, labor market policies and subjective well-being among Swedish youth," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 125-147, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General

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