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The ‘healthy worker effect’: Do healthy people climb the occupational ladder?

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  • Costa-Font, Joan
  • Ljunge, Martin

Abstract

The association between occupational status and health has been taken to reveal the presence of occupational health inequalities. However, that interpretation assumes no influence of health status in climbing the occupational ladder. This paper documents evidence of non-negligible returns to occupation status on health (which we refer as ‘healthy worker effect’). We use a unique empirical strategy that addresses the problem of reverse causality. That is, an instrumental variable strategy using the variation in average health in the migrant’s country of origin, a health measure plausibly not determined by the migrant’s occupational status. Our findings suggest that health status exerts significant effects on occupational status in several dimensions; including having a supervising role, worker autonomy, and worker influence. The effect size of health is larger than that of an upper secondary education.

Suggested Citation

  • Costa-Font, Joan & Ljunge, Martin, 2018. "The ‘healthy worker effect’: Do healthy people climb the occupational ladder?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 119-131.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:28:y:2018:i:c:p:119-131
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2017.12.007
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    1. The ‘Healthy Worker Effect’: Do Healthy People Climb the Occupational Ladder?
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2018-02-21 12:43:45

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    2. Costa-Font, Joan & Cowell, Frank, 2016. "The measurement of health inequalities: does status matter?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67976, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Kaushal, Neeraj & Wang, Julia Shu-Huah & Huang, Xiaoning, 2018. "State dream acts and education, health and mental health of Mexican young adults in the U.S," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 138-149.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Occupational status; Self-reported health; Immigrants; Work autonomy; Supervising role;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J5 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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