EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ECONOMIC INSECURITY AND HEALTH OUTCOMES
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This dissertation examines the relationship between economic insecurity and health outcomes for Canadians age 25 to 64 using the National Population Health Survey (NPHS) - a longitudinal dataset. Chapter 2 examines the relationship between perceived job insecurity and mental health (measured as psychological distress) using a person-specific fixed effects model. I find that for males and females, the occurrence of perceived job insecurity is associated with an increase in psychological distress of 0.14 and 0.09 standard deviations respectively. If the sample is restricted to those who are parents of children under 18, perceived job insecurity is associated with a 0.18 standard deviation increase in psychological distress for fathers. For mothers, this relationship is statistically insignificant (P-value = 0.15). These findings are consistent with a “breadwinner" role for fathers whereby increased psychological distress occurs in light of perceived job insecurity. Chapters 3 and 4 examine whether an increase in economic insecurity is associated with an increase in body mass (measured using self-reported height and weight). Chapter 3 defines economic insecurity as the probability of experiencing a 25 percent short fall in actual versus predicted income. For males and females, a 1 percent increase in this probability is associated with a 0.05 and 0.04 point increase in BMI respectively. However, for females the result is statistically insignificant at the 5 percent level (P-value = 0.07). A quantile regression model produces results statistically similar to pooled OLS results. Chapter 4 uses a difference-in-difference model to evaluate a natural experiment. In July 1996, a major policy change (Bill C-12) reduced Canadian unemployment insurance benefits considerably. For males with a high school education or less, the onset of unemployment in the post-policy period increases BMI by 3.2 points. For low education females, the result regarding the onset of unemployment in the post-policy period is statistically insignificant at the 5 percent level (P-value = 0.16). These results are again consistent with the hypothesis that male self-identification with a breadwinner role means that economic insecurity has greater adverse health impacts for men than women.