The Great Recession and Mother’s Health

November 2015
with Valentina Duque and Irwin Garfinkel; in The Economic Journal 125(588)

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We investigate the impacts of the dramatic increases in state unemployment rates that accompanied the Great Recession on the health of women with children using the last two waves of the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study. We focus on a wide range of physical and mental health outcomes, as well as health behaviors. The paper is one of the first to use longitudinal data to examine the impact of unemployment on mother’s health and the first to incorporate the Great Recession. We find that increases in the unemployment rate decrease selfreported health status and increase smoking and drug use. We also find evidence of heterogeneous impacts. Disadvantaged mothers—black and Hispanic, low educated, and unmarried--experience greater health deteriorations than advantaged mothers—white, married, and college educated.