Life-cycle effects of unemployment insurance on health at later-life

Philipp Hessel, Harvard University
Jason Beckfield, Harvard University

The new field of scholarship that examines welfare-state effects on health inequalities is growing rapidly, but much of this work still assumes synchronous causation, where welfare-state characteristics measured at a given point in time are assumed to affect social inequalities in health at the same point in time. This approach overlooks life-course scholarship on the development of health inequalities, and also misses historical changes in welfare-state institutions. We assess the contribution of life-course exposure to more/less generous social insurance systems to explaining health at later-life. We do this by merging life-history data from SHARE with detailed information on welfare-state institutions drawn from the Social Citizenship Indicator Program (SCIP) database covering the years since 1930. We then use this unique combination of welfare-state trajectories and life-courses to describe how people live the institutional arrangements of evolving welfare states. In particular we will assess how exposure to more/less generous unemployment insurance during sensitive life-course periods (e.g. unemployment, transition into the labour market or family formation) affects various health outcomes at later-life.

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Presented in Session 108: Biodemography and later life outcomes