A Family Affair: Job Loss and the Mental Health of Spouses and Adolescents

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 23/14

Date: 2014


Melisa Bubonya
Deborah A. Cobb-Clark
Mark Wooden


This study examines the impact of involuntary job loss on the mental health of family members. Estimates from fixed-effects panel data models, using panel data for Australia, provide little evidence of any negative spillover effect on the mental health of husbands as a result of their wives’ job loss. The mental well-being of wives, however, declines following their husbands’ job loss, but only if that job loss results in a sustained period of non-employment or if the couple experienced financial hardship or relationship strain prior to the husband’s job loss. A negative effect of parental job loss on the mental health of co-resident adolescent children is also found, but appears to be restricted to girls.

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  • Unemployment, involuntary job loss, mental health, families, spouses, adolescents, HILDA Survey