Does health make a different contribution to the formation of employment status between men and women?

Publication type

Conference Paper


BHPS-2009 Conference: the 2009 British Household Panel Survey Research Conference, 9-11 July 2009, Colchester, UK


Publication date

June 1, 2009


Social inequalities in health remain a major social issue globally. One possible explanation of health inequality is health selection: in other words people with poor health move down the social hierarchy. In this study, we examined comprehensively whether poor health was responsible for negative labour market transitions with particular attention given to gender differences across the full extent of labour market transitions. Data were pooled from 13 waves (1991-2003) of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). This sample comprised 51865 transitions from 7429 individuals who appeared in two consecutive waves (year t-1 and year t). To account for the structure of pooled data having repeated measurements from the same individual, multilevel multinomial analysis was used. The effect of health on each transition was estimated, whilst adjusting for other covariates such as education and age. The effects of health on the transition and reverse transition from employment to both unemployment and inactivity were continuously significant. Health appeared to have a different effect on the pattern of transitions between men and women. When men left employment, the effect of health on the risk of economic inactivity (OR=2.68) was far more significant than the effects on the risk of unemployment (OR=1.34). In contrast, among women, the effects of poor health on both transitions tended to be about the same degree (OR=1.65 for the former transition and OR=1.47 for the latter transition). Subsequently, poor health lowered the probability of reemployment from unemployment for women, but this was not the case for men.






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