Phillip B. Levine Answers Reader Questions in New York Times' “Ask an Expert”

February 12, 2013
cartoon showing older worker in the out basket on an executive's desk

In “Answers for Boomers Affected by the Great Recession,” Phillip B. Levine, Katharine Coman and A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Economics, addressed New York Times reader questions on job loss and life expectancy among older workers. Times reader questions came in from around the country, from Texas to Vermont.

In a study published last Fall, Levine and his co-authors, Wellesley’s Courtney C. Coile, Class of 1966 Associate Professor of Economics, and Associate Professor of Economics Robin McKnight, concluded that the life expectancy of boomers ages 57 to 61 who lose their jobs (and health insurance) may be decreased by as much as three years. The life expectancy of those 62 and older, however, who lose jobs is unaffected—in part because of the safety net provided by Social Security and Medicare.

The Wellesley study was featured in a February 2 New York Times front page story “In Hard Economy for All Ages, Older Isn’t Better... It’s Brutal” by Times economics reporter, Catherine Rampell. 

The complete study, “Recessions, Older Workers, and Longevity: How Long Are Recessions Good For Your Health?” is published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and available online.