Job Loss: Eat, drink and try to be merry?
This paper examines the impact of job loss from business closings on body mass index (BMI) and alcohol consumption. We improve upon extant literature by using: exogenously determined business closings, a sophisticated estimation approach (finite mixture models) to deal with complex heterogeneity, and national, longitudinal data (Health and Retirement Study). For both alcohol consumption and BMI, we find evidence that individuals who are more likely to respond to job loss by increasing unhealthy behaviors are already in the problematic range for these behaviors before losing their jobs. Thus health effects of job loss could be concentrated among "at risk" individuals.
This work was supported by Grant Number RL1AA017542 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to Yale University and Grant Number R01AG027045 from the National Institute on Aging to Yale University. We thank seminar participants at the University of Chicago and at the NBER Health Economics Conference (Spring 2009) for helpful comments and suggestions. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.