Till von Wachter (Department of Economics, Columbia University, NBER, CEPR, and IZA.)
Additional information is available for the following registered author(s):
We use administrative data on the quarterly employment and earnings of Pennsylvanian workers in the 1970s and 1980s matched to Social Security Administration death records covering 1980-2006 to estimate the effects of job displacement on mortality. We find that for high-seniority male workers, mortality rates in the year after displacement are 50%-100% higher than would otherwise have been expected. The effect on mortality hazards declines sharply over time, but even twenty years after displacement, we estimate a 10%-15% increase in annual death hazards. If such increases were sustained indefinitely, they would imply a loss in life expectancy of 1.0-1.5 years for a worker displaced at age forty. We show that these results are not due to selective displacement of less healthy workers or to unstable industries or firms offering less healthy work environments. We also show that workers with larger losses in earnings tend to suffer greater increases in mortality. This correlation remains when we examine predicted earnings declines based on losses in industry, firm, or firm-size wage premiums.