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Does job loss cause ill health?


  • Martin Salm

    (Department of Econometrics and OR, Tilburg University, Tilburg, Netherlands)


This study estimates the effect of job loss on health for near elderly employees based on longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study. Previous studies find a strong negative correlation between unemployment and health. To control for possible reverse causality, this study focuses on people who were laid off for an exogenous reason - the closure of their previous employers' business. I find no causal effect of exogenous job loss on various measures of physical and mental health. This suggests that the inferior health of the unemployed compared to the employed could be explained by reverse causality. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Salm, 2009. "Does job loss cause ill health?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(9), pages 1075-1089.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:18:y:2009:i:9:p:1075-1089 DOI: 10.1002/hec.1537

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stewart, Jennifer M., 2001. "The impact of health status on the duration of unemployment spells and the implications for studies of the impact of unemployment on health status," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 781-796, September.
    2. Daniel Sullivan & Till von Wachter, 2009. "Job Displacement and Mortality: An Analysis Using Administrative Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1265-1306.
    3. Chan, Sewin & Stevens, Ann Huff, 2001. "Job Loss and Employment Patterns of Older Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 484-521, April.
    4. Marcus Eliason & Donald Storrie, 2009. "Does Job Loss Shorten Life?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(2).
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    6. Petri Böckerman & Pekka Ilmakunnas, 2009. "Unemployment and self-assessed health: evidence from panel data," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 161-179.
    7. Meyer, Bruce D, 1995. "Natural and Quasi-experiments in Economics," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 151-161, April.
    8. Anders Bj�rklund, 1985. "Unemployment and Mental Health: Some Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(4), pages 469-483.
    9. Peter Adams & Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden & Angela Merrill & Tiago Ribeiro, 2004. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise? Tests for Direct Causal Paths between Health and Socioeconomic Status," NBER Chapters,in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 415-526 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Melvin Stephens, 2004. "Job Loss Expectations, Realizations, and Household Consumption Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 253-269, February.
    11. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra E. Todd, 1997. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 605-654.
    12. Currie, Janet & Madrian, Brigitte C., 1999. "Health, health insurance and the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 50, pages 3309-3416 Elsevier.
    13. Martin Browning & Anne Moller Dano & Eskil Heinesen, 2006. "Job displacement and stress-related health outcomes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(10), pages 1061-1075.
    14. Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Johannesson, Magnus, 2003. "A note on the effect of unemployment on mortality," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 505-518, May.
    15. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra Todd, 1998. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 261-294.
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    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs


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