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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”.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Knabe & Steffen Rätzel, 2008. "Scarring or Scaring? The Psychological Impact of Past Unemployment and Future Unemployment Risk," CESifo Working Paper Series 2457, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2457
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Frey, Bruno S & Stutzer, Alois, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 918-938, October.
    5. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
    6. Andrew E. Clark, 2006. "A Note on Unhappiness and Unemployment Duration," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 52(4), pages 291-308.
    7. 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.
    8. Paul Frijters & John P. Haisken-DeNew & Michael A. Shields, 2004. "Money Does Matter! Evidence from Increasing Real Income and Life Satisfaction in East Germany Following Reunification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 730-740, June.
    9. 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.
    10. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
    11. Gary Chamberlain, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 225-238.
    12. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, July.
    13. Andrew Clark & Yannis Georgellis & Peter Sanfey, 2001. "Scarring: The Psychological Impact of Past Unemployment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(270), pages 221-241, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    unemployment; scarring; happiness; life satisfaction;
    All these keywords.

    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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