Recessions, Older Workers, and Longevity: How Long Are Recessions Good For Your Health?

Published: 2013


Although past research has found that recessions reduce contemporaneous mortality, workers nearing retirement age may experience reduced longevity attributable to lengthy unemployment spells and lost health insurance at a particularly vulnerable time. To test this hypothesis, we generate age-specific cohort survival probabilities using 1965-2008 Vital Statistics mortality data and link them to labor market conditions at earlier ages. Our results indicate that experiencing a recession in one’s late 50s reduces longevity. We also find that it leads to several years of reduced employment, health insurance coverage, and health care utilization, which may contribute to the lower long-term likelihood of survival.

Key Findings