NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Impact of Health on Labor Market Outcomes: Experimental Evidence from MRFIT

Melvin Stephens, Jr., Desmond J. Toohey

NBER Working Paper No. 24231
Issued in January 2018
NBER Program(s):Health Economics, Labor Studies

While economists have posited that health investments increase earnings, isolating the causal effect of health is challenging due both to reverse causality and unobserved heterogeneity. We examine the labor market effects of a randomized controlled trial, the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT), which monitored nearly 13,000 men for over six years. We find that this intervention, which provided a bundle of treatments to reduce coronary heart disease mortality, increased earnings and family income. We find few differences in estimated gains by baseline health and occupation characteristics. Reductions in serious illnesses and work-limiting disabilities likely contributed to the observed gains.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24231

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