DP15856 In Sickness and in Health: Job Displacement and Health Spillovers in Couples
Using administrative labor market data matched to mortality and patient records, we document that male job displacement increases mortality for both men and his partner. For every 10,000 displaced men, there are 110 additional deaths. Of those, 60% accrue to the displaced worker but 40% are due to excess spousal mortality. We further document a stunning gender asymmetry: while male job displacement generates persistent health effects, no such dire consequences are observed after a woman’s job loss. We explore four explanations for this pattern: risk sharing through spousal labor supply; earnings losses and public insurance; widowhood; and family structure.