The Great Recession and Mother’s Health

Currie, Janet; Duque, Valentina; Garfinkel, Irwin

We investigate the impacts of the dramatic increases in state unemployment rates that accompanied the Great Recession on the health of women with children using the last two waves of the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study. We focus on a wide range of physical and mental health outcomes, as well as health behaviors. Our findings from individual fixed effects models suggest heterogeneous impacts across demographic and socioeconomic groups. While a rise in the unemployment rate worsened the physical and mental health, and increased the likelihood of smoking and using drugs for disadvantaged women (minorities, unmarried, and those with low education), the crisis may have actually improved the mental health of more advantaged women (Whites, marrieds, and high education) as well as improving their physical health in some respects: Whites were less likely to be obese and highly educated mothers were less likely to have health problems. High unemployment rates also increased the odds of smoking and drinking for more educated and White women. Our results confirm the importance of controlling for individual fixed effects to identify the causal impact of unemployment as well as the importance of considering heterogeneous impacts across groups.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Columbia Population Research Center
Columbia Population Research Center
Columbia Population Research Center Working Papers, 14-01
Published Here
October 17, 2016