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The Impact of Job Stress on Smoking and Quitting: Evidence from the HRS


  • Padmaja Ayyagari
  • Jody L. Sindelar


This paper examines the impact of job-related stress on smoking behavior. We use data from the Health and Retirement Study to examine how high job stress affects the probability that smokers quit and the number of cigarettes smoked for current smokers. We include individual fixed effects, which control for time-invariant factors. Occupational fixed effects are also included to control for occupational characteristics other than stress; time dummies control for the secular decline in smoking rates. Using a sample of people who smoked in the previous wave, we find that job stress is positively related to continuing to smoke and to the number of cigarettes smoked for current smokers. The FE results are of greater magnitude and significance than the OLS results suggesting an important omitted variable bias in OLS estimates. It may be that individuals who are able to handle stress or have better self-control are more likely to have high stress jobs and less likely to smoke. We also find that the smoking/stress relationship is neither explained by heterogeneity across individuals in cognitive ability, risk taking preferences or planning horizons nor is it explained by time varying measures that we observe.

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  • Padmaja Ayyagari & Jody L. Sindelar, 2009. "The Impact of Job Stress on Smoking and Quitting: Evidence from the HRS," NBER Working Papers 15232, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15232
    Note: HE

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    Cited by:

    1. Oshio, Takashi & Tsutsumi, Akizumi & Inoue, Akiomi, 2015. "Do time-invariant confounders explain away the association between job stress and workers' mental health?: Evidence from Japanese occupational panel data," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 138-144.
    2. Pesko, Michael F. & Baum, Christopher F., 2016. "The self-medication hypothesis: Evidence from terrorism and cigarette accessibility," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 94-102.
    3. Sunday Azagba & Mesbah Sharaf, 2011. "The effect of job stress on smoking and alcohol consumption," Health Economics Review, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-14, December.
    4. Eiji Yamamura & Yoshiro Tsutsui, 2016. "Effects of pregnancy and birth on smoking and drinking behaviors: a comparative study between men and women," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 16-26, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).

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    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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