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Am J Public Health. 2015 Feb;105(2):317-23. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302253.

Health effects of unemployment benefit program generosity.

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Jonathan Cylus and Mauricio Avendano are with LSE Health, Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, United Kingdom. J. Cylus is also with European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, London. M. Avendano is also with Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA. M. Maria Glymour is with Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco.



We assessed the impact of unemployment benefit programs on the health of the unemployed.


We linked US state law data on maximum allowable unemployment benefit levels between 1985 and 2008 to individual self-rated health for heads of households in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and implemented state and year fixed-effect models.


Unemployment was associated with increased risk of reporting poor health among men in both linear probability (b=0.0794; 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.0623, 0.0965) and logistic models (odds ratio=2.777; 95% CI=2.294, 3.362), but this effect is lower when the generosity of state unemployment benefits is high (b for interaction between unemployment and benefits=-0.124; 95% CI=-0.197, -0.0523). A 63% increase in benefits completely offsets the impact of unemployment on self-reported health.


Results suggest that unemployment benefits may significantly alleviate the adverse health effects of unemployment among men.

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