Lifecycle Events and Their Consequences: Job Loss, Family Change, and Declines in Health

By Kenneth A. Couch; Mary C. Daly et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Introduction

Kenneth A. Couch, Mary C. Daly, and Julie M. Zissimopoulos

Negative events in peoples’ lives can have profound effects on their lifecycle outcomes. Events such as job loss, changes in family structure, and declines in health can reduce individuals’ economic and noneconomic well-being, leaving them permanently worse off than they were before the event, unable to regain their prior standing. The impact of these shocks may not be limited to the individuals affected but can spill over to families and even to future generations, when children in affected households have limited access to economic and emotional resources.

Understanding and documenting the impact of these commonly encountered negative events is the focus of this book. Although the literature on these topics is extensive, there have been few comprehensive examinations that bring together complementary interdisciplinary analyses on a range of negative lifecycle shocks. This book begins to fill the gap with a collection of chapters authored by leading researchers in economics, demography, and sociology, all focused on three common lifecycle events: involuntary job loss, changes in family structure, and declines in health or functioning.

A key contribution of the book is the construction of a research framework that facilitates comparisons across various types of shocks. It is built around a set of key questions that are important for evaluating the individual and social costs of any lifecycle event. The questions are:

We would like to express our gratitude to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco for its support of the research in this volume. Also, we thank Natalie Zohuri for her assistance with the logistics of producing the text.

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