A new study by economist Dickinson explores lin

(Carlisle, Pennsylvania) – A new study published in the journal health economics is the first to comprehensively examine the impact of job losses during the 2008-09 US Great Recession on the mental health, physical health, and health behavior of young adults. Critically, the researchers find that the living situation of young adults – whether they live alone or with their parents – is particularly affected if they have experienced negative mental and physical health effects from job loss.

The study by Dickinson College economist Shamma Alam and Harvard economist TH Chan School of Public Health Bijetri Bose used data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) for Young Adults between the ages of 18 and 27, a period associated with maturation and significant social, psychological and economic changes. .

“The results of this study offer important nuances that policymakers should consider when trying to find ways to support young adults affected by recessions,” Alam said.

Family Matters

Researchers found that young adults living alone who experienced job losses were more likely to have mental health issues diagnosed by a doctor. Job losses also led to statistically significant increases in the frequency of feeling discouraged about the future, the frequency of worrying about future jobs, and an overall increase in worry. While young adults living alone may face more mental health issues after job loss, researchers found no evidence that job losses during the Great Recession had an impact on physical health. , health behaviors and health risk behaviors such as drinking or taking illicit drugs.

In contrast, these job losses among young people living with their parents did not have a negative impact on their own well-being, with one exception: Alam and Bose noted that fathers’ job losses resulted in deterioration in mental health, physical health and health behaviors among young adults living with their parents.

“The living situation is remarkable,” Alam explained. “The job losses of fathers, who are the main breadwinners in most households in our sample, lead to more psychological pressure for young adults.”

The study reveals that this increase in pressure is likely due to the loss of the main source of household income, compounded by the fact that young adults are forced to take on significant financial responsibilities within the household, perhaps be for the first time in their lives.

money matters

The researchers also looked at how household wealth affected young adult outcomes after job loss. Low-income people suffered from increased anxiety, obesity and excessive alcohol consumption following job loss. Wealthier people were spared most of these effects, but the authors noted an increase in illicit drug use compared to poorer people.

“We find significant differences in physical health and behavior by wealth, as poorer individuals tend to perform worse compared to their wealthier peers,” Alam said. “They end up worrying more about the future when they lose their jobs and also face other health issues.”

Further research

Alam and Bose also studied the link between economic shock and physical inactivity, which could lead to deterioration in physical health, including an increase in obesity. Additionally, they studied the links between the Great Recession and declining birth rates. Alam’s academic interests focus on different aspects of international development, such as health economics and health metrics, fertility issues, agricultural economics, public finance, and microcredit.


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