Short-run effects of parental job loss on child health

Jessamyn Schaller, Mariana Zerpa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Recent research suggests that parental job loss has negative effects on children’s outcomes, including their academic achievement and long-run educational and labor market outcomes. In this paper we turn our attention to the effects of parental job loss on children’s health. We combine health data from 16 waves of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which allows us to use a fixed-effects specification and still have a large sample of parental job displacements. We find that paternal job loss is harmful to children’s physical and mental health, particularly among children in low–socioeconomic status families. By contrast, we find that maternal job loss does not have detrimental effects on child health. Increases in public health insurance coverage compensate for close to half of the loss in private coverage that follows parental displacement, and we find no significant changes in medical-care utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-41
Number of pages34
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Child health
  • Displacement
  • Job loss
  • Unemployment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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