From Cradle to Grave : Empirical Essays on Health and Economic Outcomes
Abstract: This thesis contains four independent research papers, which investigate the causal relations between several aspects of health and economic outcomes at different stages of the life course. The first paper investigates the causal effects of maternal deprivation and maltreatment during various periods of childhood on adolescent health and human capital. Using hospital data and information onninth year GPA for the entire Swedish population born in 1978-1995, we exploit between-sibling variation in the age at exposure to maternal psychiatric hospitalization. Our results indicate a greatly elevated risk of hospital admission due to self-harm and substance-related diagnoses during late adolescence among individuals exposed to maternal psychiatric hospitalization in childhood. We also find a relatively small negative impact on girls' ninth year GPA. Taken together, the results suggest substantial adverse effects on psychosocial health for individuals exposed to maternal psychiatric hospitalization during childhood. The detrimental effects on child health are especially pronounced for exposure at very early ages, especially for boys.The second paper uses draft data covering the entire population of Swedish males born in 1965-1975 to study visually impaired individuals' labor market outcomes. A detailed and objective measure of visual acuity lets me distinguish visually impaired individuals whose impairment comprises a work-limitation from those whose productivity remains unaffected. Together with detailed information on occupational categories, this allows me to separate effects of work limitations and selection into professional categories from consequences of discrimination due to wearing glasses. The data contains objective information on cognitive and non-cognitive ability and general health, allowing me to investigate the role of important mediators. While I do not find any evidence of discrimination against individuals wearing glasses, my results suggest that work-limitations adversely affect visually impaired individuals' employment rates and earnings, already at a Jow level of reduced vision after optimal correction. I also show the importance of, most notably, non-cognitive ability in explaining part of the labor market disadvantage, suggesting difficulties for visually impaired individuals in acquiring this type of skills.The third paper uses Danish day care teachers as an ideal case for analyzing whether or not work pressure, measured by the child-to-teacher ratio, that is, the number of children per teacher in a day care institution, affects teacher sickness absenteeism. We control for individual teacher characteristics, workplace characteristics, and family background characteristics of the children in the day care institutions. We perform estimations for two time periods, 2002-2003 and 2005-2006, by using generalized method of moments with lagged levels of the child-to-teacher ratio as an instrument. Our estimation results are somewhat mixed. Generally, the results indicate that the child-to-teacher ratio is positively related to short-term sickness absence for teachers working with 1/2-3-year old children, but not for teachers working with 3-6-year olds.In the fourth paper, we study the short-run effect of salary receipt on mortality among Swedish public sector employees. By exploiting variation in paydays across work-places, we completely control for mortality patterns related to, for example, public holidays and other special days or events coinciding with paydays and for general within-month and within-week mortality patterns. We find a dramatic increase in mortality on the day that salaries arrive. The increase is especially pronounced for younger workers and for deaths due to activity-related causes such as heart conditions and strokes. The effect is entirely driven by an increase in mortality among low-income individuals, who are more likely to experience liquidity constraints. All things considered, our results suggest that an increase in general economic activity on salary receipt is an important cause of the excess mortality.
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