The Effects of First Occupation on Long Term Health Status: Evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study

35 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2011

See all articles by Jason M. Fletcher

Jason M. Fletcher

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

Date Written: July 16, 2011

Abstract

In this paper, we use a longitudinal survey that has collected information for 50 years on a large cohort of Wisconsin high school graduates and their siblings to examine the long term impact of early occupational choice on health status. We find evidence that beginning a career in a blue collar occupation is correlated with several measures of poor health outcomes at ages 50-65. Since our dataset includes usually unobserved pre-labor market characteristics, including IQ and childhood health status, we can show that controlling for these variables is important for many results and suggests a high level of selection into occupation based on health and ability. We also provide evidence of gender differentials in the association between first occupation and later health. Then, we replace our basic measure of occupational categories with summary measures of job characteristics and find that employment at “bad jobs” at the beginning of an individual’s career predicts later health outcomes. Finally, we use sibling information in the dataset to show that unmeasured family background factors explain a large share of the effects of occupation on later health. Overall, the evidence points to limited, though heterogeneous, long term effects of health from blue collar employment.

Keywords: First Occupation, Health, Sibling Fixed Effects

JEL Classification: I12, J24

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Jason M., The Effects of First Occupation on Long Term Health Status: Evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (July 16, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1944973 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1944973

Jason M. Fletcher (Contact Author)

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

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