International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 57, Issue 6, pp 867–874 | Cite as

No causal effect of unemployment on smoking? A German panel study

  • Reinhard SchunckEmail author
  • Benedikt G. Rogge
Original Article



This study analyses the effects of different unemployment durations on smoking behaviour in Germany by investigating smoking take-up, relapse, quitting and smoking intensity.


Longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel from the years 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008 were used to examine the effect of unemployment (52,940 observations from 17,028 respondents, aged 17–65 years). Unemployment duration was measured at 1–6, 7–12, 13–24, and 24+ months. Effects were estimated using zero-inflated negative binomial regressions and fixed effects logistic panel regressions.


The zero-inflated negative binomial regression models suggest that the likelihood of smoking increases with unemployment, while smoking intensity is not affected. However, fixed effects logistic regression models demonstrate that unemployment is neither a significant predictor for taking up smoking, relapsing, nor quitting.


The results indicate that in Germany, there is no direct causal effect of unemployment on smoking behaviour. The observed relationship between smoking and unemployment appears to be driven by stable, unobserved differences between employed and unemployed respondents.


Health behaviour Smoking Unemployment Longitudinal analysis Causality Fixed effects 



We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for very helpful comments and advices and William T. Gallo, Carsten Sauer, and Peter Valet for helpful suggestions on earlier versions of the paper.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany
  2. 2.Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS)University of BremenBremenGermany

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