Employment trajectories and health outcomes at mid-age

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Together with Michele Raitano and Carlo Devillanova, we assess the association between individuals’ long-term employment trajectories, defined over multiple yearly labor market states, and self-reported health in middle life. We use a unique dataset that links administrative records on the complete individual working histories since age 15 to age 45 and survey data (the 2004-2012 waves of the Italian component of the EU-SILC) where self-reported health at the year of the interview is recorded. We can therefore construct 31-year-long employment trajectories across which each year is defined by one of the 11 mutually exclusive employment statuses available in the data. We find that being out of the regular labor force for long-term unemployment or undeclared jobs and experiencing job insecurity due to frequent short unemployment spells correlate with statistically significantly worse health. Among those with a stronger attachment to the labor market, blue-collar workers report significantly worse health compared with professionals, white-collar workers and employees in the public sector, while significant differences between blue-collar workers and those experiencing frequent job insecurity have not emerged. The size of the estimated effect is large: for instance, the probability of reporting good or very good health instead of bad or very bad health for an employee in the public sector is almost twice the figure for blue-collar workers.