David Frum

05.30.13

Does Joblessness Lower Life Expectancy?

The New York Times calls attention to a study suggesting joblessness and smoking aren't great for the life expectancies of poorly educated white women:

The study weighed more than a dozen factors to see which were causing the divergence in mortality rates. Poverty, obesity, homeownership, marital status and alcohol consumption were among the factors investigated.

But they mattered little. As it turned out, smoking was important, as had long been established, but researchers were surprised that joblessness had a dramatic effect, even after controlling for factors that employment would have generated, like income and health insurance.

“What is it about employment that has this huge impact on mortality, beyond the material resources it brings?” said Jennifer Karas Montez, the study’s lead author, a researcher at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies.