NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Short-run Effects of Job Loss on Health Conditions, Health Insurance, and Health Care Utilization

Jessamyn Schaller, Ann Huff Stevens

NBER Working Paper No. 19884
Issued in February 2014
NBER Program(s):   HC   HE   LS

Job loss in the United States is associated with long-term reductions in income and long-term increases in mortality rates. This paper examines the short- to medium-term changes in health, health care access, and health care utilization after job loss that lead to these long-term effects. Using a sample with more than 9800 individual job losses and longitudinal data on a wide variety of health-related measures and outcomes, we show that job loss results in worse self-reported health, including mental health, but is not associated with statistically significant increases in a variety of specific chronic conditions. Among the full sample of workers, we see reductions in insurance coverage, but little evidence of reductions in health care utilization after job loss. Among the subset of displaced workers for whom the lost job was their primary source of insurance we do see reductions in doctor’s visits and prescription drug usage. These results suggest that access to health insurance and care may be an important part of the health effects of job loss for some workers. The pattern of results is also consistent with a significant role for stress in generating long-term health consequences after job loss.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19884

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