IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Effect of the Great Recession on Health: A longitudinal study of Irish Mothers 2001-2011


  • Jonathan Briody

    (School Of Economics, Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin)

  • Orla Doyle

    (School Of Economics, Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin)

  • Cecily Kelleher

    (School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, University College Dublin)


The relationship between recessions and health is mixed, with some evidence from the most recent financial crisis finding a positive effect on heath behaviours. This study uses longitudinal data spanning the periods before, during and after the Irish crisis of 2008, to test the impact of economic expansion and contraction on mothers physical and mental health and health behaviours. Three waves of data from the Irish Lifeways Cohort Study for the period 2001-2011, and local area employment rates from the Irish Census, are used to capture the impact of the recession on health, independent of individual employment status. The results from fixed effect linear probability models demonstrate that increases in the local unemployment rate are associated with significant increases in the probability of mothers reporting poor self-rated health and poor mental well-being. Yet the association between local area unemployment and health behaviours is mostly positive, with higher unemployment reducing the probability of being obese and tobacco consumption. The relationship with physical activity is more ambiguous. These results are largely consistent with the US literature, which is predominantly based on working men, thus demonstrating the universal impact of recessions on health.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Briody & Orla Doyle & Cecily Kelleher, 2019. "The Effect of the Great Recession on Health: A longitudinal study of Irish Mothers 2001-2011," Working Papers 201912, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201912

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2019
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Athina Economou & Agelike Nikolaou & Ioannis Theodossiou, 2008. "Are recessions harmful to health after all?: Evidence from the European Union," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 35(5), pages 368-384, September.
    2. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650.
    3. Charles, Kerwin Kofi & DeCicca, Philip, 2008. "Local labor market fluctuations and health: Is there a connection and for whom?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 1532-1550, December.
    4. Benedicte Apouey & Andrew E. Clark, 2015. "Winning Big but Feeling no Better? The Effect of Lottery Prizes on Physical and Mental Health," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(5), pages 516-538, May.
    5. Antonakakis, Nikolaos & Collins, Alan, 2015. "The impact of fiscal austerity on suicide mortality: Evidence across the ‘Eurozone periphery’," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 63-78.
    6. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2007. "Inverse probability weighted estimation for general missing data problems," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 141(2), pages 1281-1301, December.
    7. Hill, Terrence D. & Angel, Ronald J., 2005. "Neighborhood disorder, psychological distress, and heavy drinking," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(5), pages 965-975, September.
    8. Antonakakis, Nikolaos & Collins, Alan, 2014. "The impact of fiscal austerity on suicide: On the empirics of a modern Greek tragedy," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 39-50.
    9. Bingley, Paul & Walker, Ian, 2001. "Household Unemployment and the Labor Supply of Married Women," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(270), pages 157-185, May.
    10. Lynne Casper & Martin O’Connell, 1998. "Work, income, the economy, and married fathers as child-care providers," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 35(2), pages 243-250, May.
    11. Peter Adamson, 2010. "The Children Left Behind: A league table of inequality in child well-being in the world's rich countries," Papers inreca619, Innocenti Report Card.
    12. repec:bla:econom:v:68:y:2001:i:270:p:157-186 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:wly:hlthec:v:26:y:2017:i:1:p:104-117 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Lifestyles; Health; Macroeconomic conditions; Panel data; Unemployment; The Great Recession;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201912. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Geary Tech). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.