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Unemployment and Smoking: Causation, Selection, or Common Cause? Evidence from Longitudinal Data

  • Reinhard Schunck
  • Benedikt G. Rogge
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    Background: This study investigates possible mechanisms that can explain the association between unemployment and smoking, that is a) unemployment increases smoking probability (causation), b) smoking increases the probability to become unemployed (selection), and c) differences in both smoking and unemployment probabilities trace back to differences in socio-economic position (common cause). Methods: Longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) from the years 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008 were used to examine the effect of unemployment on smoking probability and vice versa (65,823 observations from 18,735 respondents, aged 18-60 years). Effects were estimated by using random and fixed effects logistic panel regressions. Results: Results from the random effects logistic regression model suggest that unemployed have a higher probability to smoke and that smokers have a higher probability to become unemployed. However, the fixed effects models indicate that the observed associations are driven by unobserved factors. Results indicate that both smoking and unemployment probability co-vary systematically with (childhood) socio-economic position. Conclusion: In contrast to previous studies, the present investigation suggests that there is neither a direct causal effect of unemployment on smoking behaviour nor a direct effect of smoking on unemployment probability. Rather, smoking and unemployment seem to be related through a common cause, with people from low socio-economic backgrounds being more likely to smoke as well as to become unemployed. These findings are interpreted in the frame of a life course perspective on the development of socially unequal health behaviours.

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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.409934.de/diw_sp0491.pdf
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    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 491.

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    Length: 23 p.
    Date of creation: 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp491
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    Web page: http://www.diw.de/en/soep
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    1. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2001. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262232197, June.
    2. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," NBER Working Papers 12006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Marcus, Jan, 2014. "Does Job Loss Make You Smoke and Gain Weight?," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 626-648.
    4. Deb, Partha & Gallo, William T. & Ayyagari, Padmaja & Fletcher, Jason M. & Sindelar, Jody L., 2011. "The effect of job loss on overweight and drinking," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 317-327, March.
    5. Martin Kroh, 2010. "Documentation of Sample Sizes and Panel Attrition in the German Socio Economic Panel (SOEP) (1984 until 2009)," Data Documentation 50, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
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