Does getting promoted improve your health? Does getting laid off make your health worse?


Neither are true. What seems to be true is that healthy people are more likely to get promoted and unhealthy people more likely to be let go:

This study estimates the effect of job loss on health for near elderly employees based on longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study. Previous studies find a strong negative correlation between unemployment and health. To control for possible reverse causality, this study focuses on people who were laid off for an exogenous reason – the closure of their previous employers’ business. I find that the unemployed are in worse health than employees, and that health reasons are a common cause of job termination. In contrast, I find no causal effect of exogenous job loss on various measures of physical and mental health. This suggests that the inferior health of the unemployed compared to the employed could be explained by reverse causality.

Source: “Does Job Loss Cause Ill Health?” from IZA Discussion Paper No. 4147, April 2009

This paper uses longitudinal data to explore whether greater job status makes a person healthier. Taking the evidence as a whole, promotees do not exhibit a health improvement after promotion. Instead the data suggest that workers with good health are more likely to be promoted. In the private sector, we find that job promotion significantly worsens people’s psychological strain (on a GHQ score). For the public sector, there are some tentative signs of the reverse. We discuss caveats to our conclusions, suggest caution in their interpretation, and argue that further longitudinal studies are needed.

Source: “Do People Become Healthier after Being Promoted?” from IZA Discussion Paper No. 3894, December 2008

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