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Cumulative Effects of Job Characteristics on Health

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

We examine whether the 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 biologic and physiologic literature that indicate that cumulative exposure to hazards and stresses harms health. To create our analytic sample, we merge job characteristics from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles with the Panel Study of Income Dynamics dataset. We control for early and lagged health measures and a set of pre-determined characteristics to address concerns that individuals self-select into jobs. Our results indicate that individuals who work in jobs with the 'worst' conditions experience declines in their health, though 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. We also find evidence that job characteristics are more detrimental to the health of females and older workers. Finally, we report suggestive evidence that earned income, another job characteristic, partially cushions the health impact of physical demands and harsh environmental conditions for workers. These results are robust to inclusion of occupation fixed effects.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15121.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15121.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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Publication status: published as Jason M. Fletcher & Jody L. Sindelar & Shintaro Yamaguchi, 2011. "Cumulative effects of job characteristics on health," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(5), pages 553-570, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15121
Note: AG HE
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  1. 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.
  2. 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 363-68, May.
  3. 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.
  4. Joseph P. Ferrie, 2001. "The Poor and the Dead: Socioeconomic Status and Mortality in the U.S., 1850-1860," NBER Historical Working Papers 0135, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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