The Impact of Late-Career Job Loss and Genotype on Body Mass Index

44 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2016 Last revised: 16 May 2021

See all articles by Lauren Schmitz

Lauren Schmitz

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research

Dalton Conley

New York University (NYU) - Department of Sociology; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2016

Abstract

This study examines whether the effect of job loss on body mass index (BMI) at older ages is moderated by genotype using twenty years of socio-demographic and genome-wide data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). To avoid any potential confounding we interact layoffs due to a plant or business closure—a plausibly exogenous environmental exposure—with a polygenic risk score for BMI in a regression-adjusted semiparametric differences-in-differences matching framework that compares the BMI of those before and after an involuntary job loss with a control group that has not been laid off. Results indicate genetically-at-risk workers who lost their job before they were eligible for Social Security benefits, or before age 62, were more likely to gain weight. Further analysis reveals heterogeneous treatment effects by demographic, health, and socioeconomic characteristics. In particular, we find high risk individuals who gained weight after a job loss were more likely to be male, in worse health, single, and at the bottom half of the wealth distribution. Across the board, effects are concentrated among high-risk individuals who were not overweight prior to job loss, indicating unemployment at older ages may trigger weight gain in otherwise healthy or normal weight populations.

Suggested Citation

Schmitz, Lauren and Conley, Dalton, The Impact of Late-Career Job Loss and Genotype on Body Mass Index (June 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22348, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2797922

Lauren Schmitz (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research ( email )

426 Thompson St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.laurenlschmitz.com

Dalton Conley

New York University (NYU) - Department of Sociology ( email )

New York, NY 10012
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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