Purpose: To examine whether economic conditions at the time of leaving school or college are associated with physical functioning in later life among cohorts in 11 European countries. Methods: Data came from 10,338 participants in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) aged 50-74 who left school or college between 1956 and 1986. Data on functional limitations, as well as employment, marriage, and fertility retrospective histories were linked to national unemployment rates during the year individuals left school. Models included country-fixed effects and controls for early-life circumstances. Results: Greater unemployment rates during the school-leaving year were associated with fewer functional limitations at ages 50-74 among men (rate ratio 0.63, 95% confidence interval0.47-0.83), but more physical functioning limitations among women (rate ratio1.30, 95% confidence interval1.13-1.50), particularly among those with (post-)secondary education. Economic conditions at the age of leaving school were associated with several labor market, marriage, fertility, and health behavior outcomes, but controlling for these factors did not attenuate associations. Results were similar in models that controlled for selection into higher education due to measured covariates. Conclusions: Worse economic conditions during the school-leaving year predicted better health at later life among men but worse health among women. Both selection and causation mechanisms may explain this association.

Activities of daily living, Economic recession, Europe, Functional status, Mobility limitation
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2013.08.001, hdl.handle.net/1765/65385
Annals of Epidemiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Hessel, P, & Avendano, M. (2013). Are economic recessions at the time of leaving school associated with worse physical functioning in later life?. Annals of Epidemiology, 23(11), 708–715. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2013.08.001