Job Loss and Health: A Longitudinal Analysis of Job Transitions among U.S. Workers 2004-2009

Terceira A. Berdahl, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), DHHS
Lan Liang, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), DHHS

Recent studies link job loss to poor health, depression, hypertension and heart disease. Nonetheless, debates over how health relates to job transitions remain. In this study, we investigate the health effects of job loss by analyzing job transitions and health among workers from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (2004-2009). Logistic regression models show that laid off workers were more likely (OR=1.57) than continuously employed workers to report fair/poor physical health, after controlling for initial health, occupation, job characteristics, and demographic variables. Experiencing a job ending, or illness-related separation were both associated with elevated odds of reporting fair/poor physical health (OR=2.32 and OR=4.08). Quitting was not associated with either outcome. Involuntary job losses (job ending, layoff, illness/injury) are hazardous to workers’ physical and mental health. Our study examines changes in health status during the most current recession and sheds light on the contemporary experience of job loss in the United States.

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Presented in Session 100: The Great Recession and Intranational and International Inequality