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Starting your career path on the wrong foot

Entering the labor market in a recession can take years off your life, study finds
Career path
Your mortality may be tied to when you began your career path, a Northwestern economist finds.

For millions of young people who came of age amid the financial crisis of 2007-08, entering the labor market starting on a career path in the depths of the Great Recession could have long-term health consequences.

In addition to affecting net worth and long-term family outcomes, including marriage and cohabitation with children, starting on a career path during a deep recession can take years off your life, new Northwestern University research suggests. The study is published as a working paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research and has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Economists Hannes Schwandt of Northwestern University and Till von Wachter of the University of California Los Angeles found that young people entering the labor market during the deep recession of the early 1980s suffer increased mortality as early as their 30s, mortality rates which become more pronounced through age 50.

The tendency toward an earlier demise for these unlucky job hunters is driven in part by diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer and so-called “diseases of despair” such as liver disease and drug overdoses.


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