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Estimating Causal Effects of Early Occupational Choice on Later Health: Evidence Using the PSID

  • Jason M. Fletcher
  • Jody L. Sindelar

In this paper, we provide some of the first empirical evidence of whether early occupational choices are associated with lasting effects on health status, affecting individuals as they age. We take advantage of data on occupational histories available in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to examine this issue. To the PSID data, we merge historical Census data that reflect the labor market conditions when each individual in the PSID made his first occupational choice. These data on labor market conditions (e.g. state-level share of blue collar workers) allow us to instrument for occupational choice in order to alleviate endogeneity bias. We use parental occupation as additional instruments. Since our instruments may have indirect effects on later health, we also control for respondent's pre-labor market health, education and several family and state background characteristics in order to make the instruments more plausibly excludable. We find substantial evidence that a blue collar occupation at labor force entry is associated with decrements to later health status, ceteris paribus. These health effects are larger after controlling for endogeneity and are similar across sets of instruments. We also find differences in the effects of occupation by gender, race, and age.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15256.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15256
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  1. Eugene Choo & Michael Denny, 2006. "Wearing Out -- The Decline in Health," Working Papers tecipa-258, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  2. David M. Cutler & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2006. "Education and Health: Evaluating Theories and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 12352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Philip Oreopoulos & Till von Wachter & Andrew Heisz, 2006. "The Short- and Long-Term Career Effects of Graduating in a Recession: Hysteresis and Heterogeneity in the Market for College Graduates," NBER Working Papers 12159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. repec:cdl:indrel:243315 is not listed on IDEAS
  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. Dora L. Costa & Joanna N. Lahey, 2005. "Predicting Older Age Mortality Trends," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 487-493, 04/05.
  8. 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.
  9. Carneiro, Pedro & Meghir, Costas & Parey, Matthias, 2007. "Maternal Education, Home Environments and the Development of Children and Adolescents," CEPR Discussion Papers 6505, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Derek Neal, 1998. "The Complexity of Job Mobility Among Young Men," NBER Working Papers 6662, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Marmot, Michael & Ryff, Carol D. & Bumpass, Larry L. & Shipley, Martin & Marks, Nadine F., 1997. "Social inequalities in health: Next questions and converging evidence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(6), pages 901-910, March.
  12. Ronni Pavan, 2010. "The Role of Career Choice in Understanding Job Mobility," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 24(2), pages 107-127, 06.
  13. Johnson, Rucker C. & Schoeni, Robert F., 2007. "The Influence of Early-Life Events on Human Capital, Health Status, and Labor Market Outcomes Over the Life Course," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt71p310w1, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  14. Michael P. Murray, 2006. "Avoiding Invalid Instruments and Coping with Weak Instruments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 111-132, Fall.
  15. Gueorgui Kambourov & Iourii Manovskii, 2009. "Occupational Specificity Of Human Capital," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(1), pages 63-115, 02.
  16. Oddbjørn Raaum & Knut Røed, 2006. "Do Business Cycle Conditions at the Time of Labor Market Entry Affect Future Employment Prospects?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 193-210, May.
  17. Kenkel, Donald S, 1991. "Health Behavior, Health Knowledge, and Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 287-305, April.
  18. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  19. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," Working Papers 645, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  20. Johnson Rucker C & Schoeni Robert F, 2011. "The Influence of Early-Life Events on Human Capital, Health Status, and Labor Market Outcomes Over the Life Course," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(3), pages 1-57, September.
  21. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother'S Education And The Intergenerational Transmission Of Human Capital: Evidence From College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532, November.
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