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Concept: Panel Study of Income Dynamics



Research on poverty in the United States has largely consisted of examining cross-sectional levels of absolute poverty. In this analysis, we focus on understanding relative poverty within a life course context. Specifically, we analyze the likelihood of individuals falling below the 20th percentile and the 10th percentile of the income distribution between the ages of 25 and 60. A series of life tables are constructed using the nationally representative Panel Study of Income Dynamics data set. This includes panel data from 1968 through 2011. Results indicate that the prevalence of relative poverty is quite high. Consequently, between the ages of 25 to 60, 61.8 percent of the population will experience a year below the 20th percentile, and 42.1 percent will experience a year below the 10th percentile. Characteristics associated with experiencing these levels of poverty include those who are younger, nonwhite, female, not married, with 12 years or less of education, or who have a work disability.

Concepts: United States, Econometrics, Statistical data types, Cross-sectional data, Poverty threshold, Panel data, Panel Study of Income Dynamics, German Socio-Economic Panel


Despite growing evidence of public health benefits from urban green space there has been little longitudinal analysis. This study used panel data to explore three different hypotheses about how moving to greener or less green areas may affect mental health over time. The samples were participants in the British Household Panel Survey with mental health data (General Health Questionnaire scores) for five consecutive years, and who relocated to a different residential area between the second and third years (n = 1064; observations = 5,320). Fixed-effects analyses controlled for time-invariant individual level heterogeneity and other area and individual level effects. Compared to pre-move mental health scores, individuals who moved to greener areas (n=594) had significantly better mental health in all three post-move years (P=.015; P=.016; P=.008), supporting a ‘shifting baseline’ hypothesis. Individuals who moved to less green areas (n=470) showed significantly worse mental health in the year preceding the move (P=.031) but returned to baseline in the post-move years. Moving to greener urban areas was associated with sustained mental health improvements, suggesting that environmental policies to increase urban green space may have sustainable public health benefits.

Concepts: Health care, Scientific method, Health economics, Observation, Hypothesis, Panel data, British Household Panel Survey, Panel Study of Income Dynamics


OBJECTIVE:: Modifiable health risks such as smoking, exercise, and body weight have been linked to illness absence from work. This suggests that employers could improve their productivity if their workers adopted healthier lifestyles, but methodological concerns regarding selection bias and omitted variables remain. METHODS:: We use a first-difference model of changes in health behaviors and illness- and family-related absence from work among a nationally representative, longitudinal panel of employed individuals. RESULTS:: Workers who lost weight or increased their frequency of light exercise also saw their illness absences decrease over a 2-year period. Some, but not all, of the relationship is mediated by the change in health status. No such decrease was observed for family-related absences. CONCLUSION:: The findings are consistent with the proposition that both employers and employees could benefit from efforts to support better health habits.

Concepts: Health care, Scientific method, Medicine, Health, Epidemiology, Employment, Personal life, Panel Study of Income Dynamics


The authors examined associations between marital quality and both general life satisfaction and experienced (momentary) well-being among older husbands and wives, the relative importance of own versus spouse’s marital appraisals for well-being, and the extent to which the association between own marital appraisals and well-being is moderated by spouse’s appraisals. Data are from the 2009 Disability and Use of Time daily diary supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (N = 722). One’s own marital satisfaction is a sizable and significant correlate of life satisfaction and momentary happiness; associations do not differ significantly by gender. The authors did not find a significant association between spouse’s marital appraisals and own well-being. However, the association between husband’s marital quality and life satisfaction is buoyed when his wife also reports a happy marriage, yet flattened when his wife reports low marital quality. Implications for understanding marital dynamics and well-being in later life are discussed.

Concepts: Marriage, The Association, Husband, Personal life, Happiness, Wife, Spouse, Panel Study of Income Dynamics


Personality may influence the risk of death, but the evidence remains inconsistent. We examined associations between personality traits of the five-factor model (extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience) and the risk of death from all causes through individual-participant meta-analysis of 76,150 participants from 7 cohorts (the British Household Panel Survey, 2006-2009; the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, 2005-2010; the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey, 2006-2010; the US Health and Retirement Study, 2006-2010; the Midlife in the United States Study, 1995-2004; and the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study’s graduate and sibling samples, 1993-2009). During 444,770 person-years at risk, 3,947 participants (54.4% women) died (mean age at baseline = 50.9 years; mean follow-up = 5.9 years). Only low conscientiousness-reflecting low persistence, poor self-control, and lack of long-term planning-was associated with elevated mortality risk when taking into account age, sex, ethnicity/nationality, and all 5 personality traits. Individuals in the lowest tertile of conscientiousness had a 1.4 times higher risk of death (hazard ratio = 1.37, 95% confidence interval: 1.18, 1.58) compared with individuals in the top 2 tertiles. This association remained after further adjustment for health behaviors, marital status, and education. In conclusion, of the higher-order personality traits measured by the five-factor model, only conscientiousness appears to be related to mortality risk across populations.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Epidemiology, Death, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Panel data, British Household Panel Survey, Panel Study of Income Dynamics


The aim of this study was to examine the presence of a dose-response relationship between work hours and incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a representative sample of U.S. workers.

Concepts: Cardiovascular disease, Dose-response relationship, The Panel, Panel Study of Income Dynamics



Overweight and obesity have been associated with unemployment but less is known about changes in weight associated with changes in employment. We examined weight changes associated with job-loss, retirement and maintaining employment in two samples of working adults in the United Kingdom. This was a prospective study of 7201 adults in the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk study (aged 39-76 years) and 4539 adults in the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) who were followed up over 43 months and 26 months, respectively. In both samples, changes in measured (EPIC) and self-reported (BHPS) weight were computed for each participant and assessed in relation to three employment transitions: maintaining paid employment, retirement and job-loss. Regression models adjusted for potential confounders. Further analyses evaluated the contribution of diet, physical activity and smoking to weight gain. In EPIC-Norfolk, weight change differed across the three employment transitions for women but not men. The mean (95% CI) annualised change in weight for women who became unemployed over the follow-up period was 0.70 (0.55, 0.85) kg/y while those who maintained employment gained 0.49 (0.43, 0.55) kg/y (P = 0.007). Accounting for changes in smoking, diet and physical activity did not substantially alter the difference in weight gain among groups. In BHPS, job-loss was associated with weight gain of 1.56 (0.89, 2.23) kg/y, while those who maintained employment 0.60 (0.53, 0.68) kg/y (P < 0.001). In both samples, weight changes associated with retirement were similar to those staying in work. In BHPS, job-loss was also associated with significant declines in self-reported well-being and increases in sleep-loss. Two UK-based samples of working adults reveal strong associations between job-loss and excess weight gain. The mediating behaviours are so far unclear but psychosocial mechanisms and sleep-loss may contribute to the excess weight gain among individuals who become unemployed.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Nutrition, Obesity, Overweight, United Kingdom, Panel data, British Household Panel Survey, Panel Study of Income Dynamics


Living with housing problems increases the risk of mental ill health. Housing problems tend to persist over time but little is known about the mental health consequences of living with persistent housing problems. We investigated if persistence of poor housing affects mental health over and above the effect of current housing conditions. We used data from 13 annual waves of the British Household Panel Survey (1996 to 2008) (81,745 person/year observations from 16,234 individuals) and measured the persistence of housing problems by the number of years in the previous four that a household experienced housing problems. OLS regression models and lagged-change regression models were used to estimate the effects of past and current housing conditions on mental health, as measured by the General Health Questionnaire. Interaction terms tested if tenure type modified the impact of persistent poor housing on mental health. In fully adjusted models, mental health worsened as the persistence of housing problems increased. Adjustment for current housing conditions attenuated, but did not explain, the findings. Tenure type moderated the effects of persistent poor housing on mental health, suggesting that those who own their homes outright and those who live in social housing are most negatively affected. Persistence of poor housing was predictive of worse mental health, irrespective of current housing conditions, which added to the weight of evidence that demonstrates that living in poor quality housing for extended periods of time has negative consequences for mental health.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Linear regression, Effect, Illness, Affect, Mental disorder, British Household Panel Survey, Panel Study of Income Dynamics