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The Public Health Costs of Unemployment

  • Andreas KUHN
  • Rafael LALIVE
  • Josef ZWEIMÜLLER

This paper studies how unemployment affects public health costs. We use plant closure as an instrument for unemployment because bankruptcy is unlikely to be caused by deteriorating health but has a strong impact on workers' subsequent employment. The empirical analysis is based on an extremely rich data set with comprehensive information on various types of health care costs and day-by-day work history of individual workers. Our central findings are (i) expenditures on medical treatments are not strongly affected by joblessness, (ii) lack of employment reduces mental health for men but not for women, and (iii) sickness benefit payments strongly increase due to job loss. Our results also show that OLS estimates strongly overestimate the causal effect of unemployment on public health costs.

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Paper provided by Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP in its series Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) with number 07.08.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:07.08
Contact details of provider: Postal: Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP, Internef, CH-1015 Lausanne
Phone: ++41 21 692.33.64
Web page: http://www.hec.unil.ch/deep/publications/cahiers/series
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  1. Christian Hagist & Laurence Kotlikoff, 2005. "Who's Going Broke? Comparing Growth in Healthcare Costs in Ten OECD Countries," NBER Working Papers 11833, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Ruhm, Christopher J., 2002. "Deaths Rise in Good Economic Times: Evidence From the OECD," IZA Discussion Papers 654, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Jennifer Stewart, 1999. "The Impact of Health Status on the Duration of Unemployment Spells and the Implications for Studies of the Impact of Unemployment on Health Status," Working Papers 33, National University of Ireland Galway, Department of Economics, revised 1999.
  5. Björklund, Anders, 1984. "Unemployment and Mental Health: Some Evidence from Panel Data," Working Paper Series 120, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  6. Arnaud Chevalier & Leon Feinstein, 2007. "Sheepskin or Prozac: The Causal Effect of Education on Mental Health," Working Papers 200715, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  7. Marcus Eliason & Donald Storrie, 2006. "Lasting or Latent Scars? Swedish Evidence on the Long-Term Effects of Job Displacement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 831-856, October.
  8. 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.
  9. Ahs, Annika Maria Helen & Westerling, Ragnar, 2006. "Health care utilization among persons who are unemployed or outside the labour force," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 78(2-3), pages 178-193, October.
  10. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  11. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  12. Johansson, Per & Palme, Marten, 2005. "Moral hazard and sickness insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1879-1890, September.
  13. Askildsen, Jan Erik & Bratberg, Espen & Nilsen, Øivind Anti, 2002. "Unemployment, labour force composition and sickness absence. A panel data study," Working paper Series 0205, Department of Economics, University of Bergen.
  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. Henrekson, Magnus & Persson, Mats, 2001. "The Effects on Sick Leave of Changes in the Sickness Insurance System," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 0444, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 08 Aug 2001.
  16. Goldsmith, Arthur H. & Veum, Jonathan R. & Darity, William Jr., 1996. "The psychological impact of unemployment and joblessness," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 333-358.
  17. Theodossiou, I., 1998. "The effects of low-pay and unemployment on psychological well-being: A logistic regression approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 85-104, January.
  18. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2003. "Good times make you sick," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 637-658, July.
  19. Johansson, Per & Palme, Marten, 1996. "Do economic incentives affect work absence? Empirical evidence using Swedish micro data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 195-218, February.
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