Does Unemployment Really Kill?

37 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2010

Date Written: September 4, 2010


The prior literature almost unanimously finds that unemployment has a negative effect on individuals’ mental and physical health and well-being. But if persons with a long unemployment history and an ill health are more likely to become unemployed it may cause an upward bias in the estimated effect of unemployment on health. To correct for this, I analyse the effect of unemployment on 13-year mortality using a large longitudinal dataset obtained from Danish administrative registers, including information on individuals’ initial health, unemployment history, and many other factors that may simultaneously affect the unemployment propensity and survival chances. Even after controlling for these factors, I find a positive impact of unemployment on mortality: unemployment causes a 32–37 per cent excess mortality for men in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s; for older men in their 50’s the impact is smaller. There is no clear impact of unemployment on women’s mortality except - with some uncertainty - for women in their 20’s.

Keywords: Unemployment, Mortality, Health, Panel Data, Administrative Register Data, Propensity Score Matching

JEL Classification: I12, J60

Suggested Citation

Andersen, Henrik Lindegaard, Does Unemployment Really Kill? (September 4, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Henrik Lindegaard Andersen (Contact Author)

Danish Institute of Governmental Research ( email )

Købmagergade 22
Copenhagen K, 1150
+45 33344371 (Phone)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics