Impact of First Occupation on Health at Older Ages

30 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2007  

Jody L. Sindelar

Yale University - School of Public Health; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs; Yale University - School of Public Health

Tracy Falba

Duke University - Department of Economics

Patricia Keenan

Yale University - School of Public Health

Bill Gallo

Yale University

Date Written: December 2007

Abstract

Occupation is discussed as a social determinant of health. Occupation has received little attention in this light in the economics literature. We examine occupation in a life-course framework and use measures of first-occupation, initial health, and mother's education. We contend that first occupation is a choice made relatively early in life that affects health outcomes at later ages. We examine first-occupation for two reasons: 1) there is growing evidence that early determinants affect later health and occupation has received little attention in this regard and 2) first occupation is predetermined in analysis of later health, which helps to address the issue of potential simultaneity. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) we estimate the impact of initial occupation on two measures of health later in life: respondent-reported fair/poor health and ever suffering a heart attack. The PSID offers the opportunity to examine a lifecycle perspective as we can examine the impact of early occupation on later health while controlling for several predetermined conditions such as mother's education and health in youth. Estimates suggest that first-occupation has a durable impact on later health, ceteris paribus, but that the impact varies by health measure and the set of control variables in regression specifications. Early choice of occupation could be a critical factor in successful aging and this information may pave the way to developing more effective workplace and public policies to improve health in older ages.

Suggested Citation

Sindelar, Jody L. and Fletcher, Jason M. and Falba, Tracy and Keenan, Patricia and Gallo, Bill, Impact of First Occupation on Health at Older Ages (December 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w13715. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1079310

Jody L. Sindelar (Contact Author)

Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States
203-785-5287 (Phone)
203-785-6287 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States

Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

Tracy Falba

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Patricia Keenan

Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

William Gallo

Yale University ( email )

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States
(203) 785-2854 (Phone)
(203) 785-6287 (Fax)

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