Adjusting for Selection Bias in Longitudinal Analyses Using Simultaneous Equations Modeling The Relationship Between Employment Transitions and Mental Health

Fiona Steele*, Robert French, Mel Bartley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Effects of labor force participation on mental health can be difficult to discern due to the possibility of selection bias. Previous research typically adjusts for direct selection (reverse causality) but ignores indirect selection (unmeasured confounders).

Methods: We investigate the relationship between men's employment transitions and mental health using a dynamic simultaneous equations model applied to data from the British Household Panel Survey (1991-2009). Outcome is self-reported distress and anxiety as summed on a 12-point scale. We allow for direct selection by allowing prior mental health to affect both subsequent mental health and employment transitions in the joint model. We adjust for indirect selection by allowing for residual correlation between mental health and employment.

Results: Moving from unemployment to employment was strongly associated with an improvement in mental health, whereas becoming unemployed was detrimental. However, these associations were attenuated by unmeasured confounders. After adjustment for indirect selection, the increased distress and anxiety associated with becoming unemployed decreased from 2.5 (95% confidence interval = 2.2 to 2.7) to 2.2 (2.0 to 2.5). (A change of 2.5 equates to half a standard deviation on the 12-point scale.) The improvement with moving from unemployment to employment was also weakened slightly (from -2.1 [-2.4 to -1.7] to -1.8 [-2.1 to -1.5]).

Conclusions: There was strong evidence of indirect selection, but less support for direct selection. Nevertheless, the effects on psychological health of transitions between employment and unemployment, and between employment and economic inactivity, remained substantial after adjusting for selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-711
Number of pages9
JournalEpidemiology
Volume24
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Adjusting for Selection Bias in Longitudinal Analyses Using Simultaneous Equations Modeling The Relationship Between Employment Transitions and Mental Health'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this