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Scarring or Scaring? The Psychological Impact of Past Unemployment and Future Unemployment Risk

  • Andreas Knabe


    (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)

  • Steffen Rätzel


    (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)

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 it is not the scar from past unemployment but the expectation to become unemployed in the future that makes people unhappy. Hence, the terminology should be changed by one letter: unemployment is not “scarring”, but “scaring”.

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Paper provided by Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management in its series FEMM Working Papers with number 08013.

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Length: 13 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mag:wpaper:08013
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  1. Clark, Andrew E., 2006. "A Note on Unhappiness and Unemployment Duration," IZA Discussion Papers 2406, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Andrew Clark, 2001. "Unemployment As A Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," DELTA Working Papers 2001-17, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  3. Andrew Clark & Yannis Georgellis & Peter Sanfey, 1999. "Scarring: The Psychological Impact of Past Unemployment," Studies in Economics 9903, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  4. Chamberlain, Gary, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 225-38, January.
  5. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  6. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  7. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," CESifo Working Paper Series 246, CESifo Group Munich.
  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. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Gerlach, Knut & Stephan, Gesine, 1996. "A paper on unhappiness and unemployment in Germany," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 325-330, September.
  11. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
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