The Impact of Job Stress on Smoking and Quitting: Evidence from the HRS

Padmaja Ayyagari, Jody L. Sindelar

NBER Working Paper No. 15232
Issued in August 2009
NBER Program(s):Health Economics

This paper examines the impact of job-related stress on smoking behavior. We use data from the Health and Retirement Study to examine how high job stress affects the probability that smokers quit and the number of cigarettes smoked for current smokers. We include individual fixed effects, which control for time-invariant factors. Occupational fixed effects are also included to control for occupational characteristics other than stress; time dummies control for the secular decline in smoking rates. Using a sample of people who smoked in the previous wave, we find that job stress is positively related to continuing to smoke and to the number of cigarettes smoked for current smokers. The FE results are of greater magnitude and significance than the OLS results suggesting an important omitted variable bias in OLS estimates. It may be that individuals who are able to handle stress or have better self-control are more likely to have high stress jobs and less likely to smoke. We also find that the smoking/stress relationship is neither explained by heterogeneity across individuals in cognitive ability, risk taking preferences or planning horizons nor is it explained by time varying measures that we observe.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15232

Published: Padmaja Ayyagari & Jody L. Sindelar, 2010. "The Impact of Job Stress on Smoking and Quitting: Evidence from the HRS," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Berkeley Electronic Press, vol. 10(1). citation courtesy of

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