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Stepping into adulthood during a recession: Did job losses during the Great Recession impact health of young adults?

Shamma Adeeb Alam and Bijetri Bose

Health Economics, 2022, vol. 31, issue 8, 1730-1751

Abstract: This is the first study to comprehensively examine the impact of job losses during the Great Recession on mental health, physical health, health behavior, and risky health behavior of young adults (ages 18–27). We employ U.S. longitudinal data with individual fixed effects to control for time‐invariant factors that may bias the results. We find that job losses during the recession of young adults living by themselves led to increased onset of doctor‐diagnosed mental health problems and worries related to jobs. Poorer individuals suffered more from increased worries, obesity, and binge drinking. In contrast, for those living with their parents, job loss of young adults did not negatively affect their own health. Instead, fathers' job losses led to worse mental health, physical health, and health behavior for young adults. Overall, the results suggest that when living on their own, young adults were responsible for their households' livelihood, and consequently, own job losses led to stress and negative health outcomes. However, when living with parents, they were financially reliant on their parents. Therefore, own job losses did not affect health, but job losses of fathers, the primary income earners for most households, worsened the health of young adults.

Date: 2022
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https://doi.org/10.1002/hec.4535

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