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Cumulative Effects of Job Characteristics on Health


  • Jason M. Fletcher
  • Jody L. Sindelar
  • Shintaro Yamaguchi


We present what we believe are the best estimates of how job characteristics of physical demands and environmental conditions affect individual’s health. Five-year cumulative measures of these job characteristics are used to reflect findings in the physiologic literature that cumulative exposure is most relevant for the impact of hazards and stresses on health. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics we find that individuals who work in jobs with the ‘worst’ conditions experience declines in their health, although this effect varies by demographic group. For example, for non-white men, a one standard deviation increase in cumulative physical demands decreases health by an amount that offsets an increase of two years of schooling or four years of aging. Job characteristics are found more detrimental to the health of females and older workers. These results are robust to inclusion of occupation fixed effects, health early in life and lagged health.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason M. Fletcher & Jody L. Sindelar & Shintaro Yamaguchi, 2008. "Cumulative Effects of Job Characteristics on Health," Department of Economics Working Papers 2008-05, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2008-05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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 223-255, March-Apr.
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    3. Jody L. Sindelar & Jason Fletcher & Tracy Falba & Patricia Keenan & William T. Gallo, 2007. "Impact of First Occupation on Health at Older Ages," NBER Working Papers 13715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Miles S. Kimball & Claudia R. Sahm & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2009. "Risk Preferences in the PSID: Individual Imputations and Family Covariation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 363-368, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fiorillo, Damiano, 2013. "Friends and health of the workers in Italy," MPRA Paper 44270, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Meyer, S.C. & Künn-Nelen, A.C., 2014. "Do occupational demands explain the educational gradient in health?," Research Memorandum 016, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    3. Braendle, Thomas & Colombier, Carsten, 2016. "What drives public health care expenditure growth? Evidence from Swiss cantons, 1970–2012," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(9), pages 1051-1060.
    4. Damiano Fiorillo, 2016. "Workers' health and social relations in Italy," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 43(5), pages 835-862, October.
    5. Michaud, Amanda M. & Wiczer, David, 2014. "Occupational hazards and social disability insurance," Working Papers 2014-24, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 03 Oct 2016.
    6. Jason Fletcher, 2012. "The Effects of First Occupation on Long Term Health Status: Evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 49-75, March.
    7. Pedersen, Morten Saaby & Arendt, Jacob Nielsen, 2014. "Bargaining for health: A case study of a collective agreement-based health program for manual workers," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 123-136.
    8. Cutler, David M. & Huang, Wei & Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2015. "When does education matter? The protective effect of education for cohorts graduating in bad times," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 63-73.
    9. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:4:p:1986-2007 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Inas Kelly & Dhaval Dave & Jody Sindelar & William Gallo, 2014. "The impact of early occupational choice on health behaviors," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 737-770, December.
    11. Bastian Ravesteijn & Hans van Kippersluis & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2013. "The Wear and Tear on Health: What is the Role of Occupation?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-143/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    12. Johanna Catherine Maclean & Douglas A. Webber & Michael T. French & Susan L. Ettner, 2015. "The Health Consequences of Adverse Labor Market Events: Evidence from Panel Data," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 478-498, July.
    13. Pierre Pestieau & Maria Racionero, 2016. "Harsh occupations, health status and social security," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 239-257, April.
    14. Giuntella, Osea & Mazzonna, Fabrizio, 2014. "Do Immigrants Bring Good Health?," IZA Discussion Papers 8073, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Dillender, Marcus, 2015. "The effect of health insurance on workers’ compensation filing: Evidence from the affordable care act's age-based threshold for dependent coverage," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 204-228.
    16. Vermeer, Niels & Mastrogiacomo, Mauro & Van Soest, Arthur, 2016. "Demanding occupations and the retirement age," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 159-170.
    17. Giuntella, Osea & Mazzonna, Fabrizio, 2015. "Do immigrants improve the health of natives?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 140-153.
    18. Brady P. Horn & Johanna Catherine Maclean & Michael R. Strain, 2017. "Do Minimum Wage Increases Influence Worker Health?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(4), pages 1986-2007, October.
    19. Michele Belloni & Agar Brugiavini & Elena Maschi & Kea Tijdens, 2014. "Measurement error in occupational coding:an analysis on SHARE data," Working Papers 2014: 24, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    20. Kajitani, Shinya, 2015. "Which is worse for your long-term health, a white-collar or a blue-collar job?," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 228-243.
    21. Maclean, Johanna Catherine, 2013. "The health effects of leaving school in a bad economy," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 951-964.
    22. ZHONG, Hai, 2015. "An over time analysis on the mechanisms behind the education–health gradients in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 135-149.
    23. Leombruni, Roberto & Razzolini, Tiziano & Serti, Francesco, 2015. "The Hidden Cost of Labor Market Entry During Recession: Unemployment Rate at Entry and Occupational Injury Risk of Young Workers," IZA Discussion Papers 8968, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Health; occupational characteristic;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy

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