Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2018;44(6):639-646    pdf full text


Labor market and health trajectories during periods of economic recession and expansion in the United States, 1988‒2011

by Fan JK, Amick III BC, Richardson L, Scott-Marshall H, McLeod CB

Objectives We examined associations between labor market and health (LM-H) trajectories in the United States between 1988 and 2011 and whether associations differed across macroeconomic expansion/recession periods.

Methods Working-age cohorts, derived from the US Panel Study of Income Dynamics, were followed over time to characterize LM-H trajectories. Poisson regression provided relative risks (RR) with robust 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between trajectories, adjusting for demographic and socioeconomic variables.

Results LM trajectories ending in unemployment (RR 1.7‒2.5 across periods) or inactivity (RR 2.3–3.2) had a greater risk of worsening health trajectories, compared to stable employment. In contrast, RR for individuals returning to work following an intermediary period of unemployment/inactivity were attenuated across most periods. Stable-employed individuals had the highest probability of remaining in good health, whereas trajectories ending in unemployment or inactivity had the lowest probability. These overall relationships were consistent across macroeconomic periods.

Conclusions We found strong and consistent relationships between LM-H trajectories across macroeconomic periods. The attenuated (but not eliminated) risk among individuals returning to work following a period of unemployment/inactivity suggests that health outcomes are not only dependent on the LM end-state, but also on the distinct pattern over time.

This article refers to the following text of the Journal: 2016;42(4):346-353
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