Portuguese Economic Journal

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 33–55 | Cite as

Health status and labor force participation: evidence for urban low and middle income individuals in Colombia

  • Ana María Iregui-Bohórquez
  • Ligia Alba Melo-Becerra
  • María Teresa Ramírez-Giraldo
Original Article


This paper analyzes the relationship between individual health status and labor force participation using the first wave of the Colombian Longitudinal Survey. The empirical modeling strategy accounts for the presence of potential endogeneity between these two variables. The results show that there is a positive relationship between health and labor force participation in both directions, indicating that better health is likely to lead to a higher probability of participation in the labor market, but also that individuals who participate in the labor market are more likely to report better health. Interesting differences are uncovered when comparing the results by gender and/or age groups. For instance, for younger females, health status and higher education positively affect the probability of labor participation, whereas having children under the age of 5 and being married reduce their probability of participation. Our findings also highlight the importance of public policy to guarantee good health conditions of the population which could also have a positive impact on labor productivity and consequently on long-run economic growth.


Health status Labor force participation Endogeneity Two-stage least squares Ordered probit 

JEL Classification

C35 C36 I10 J21 



We would like to thank an anonymous referee for helpful comments and suggestions. We also want to thank Ximena Cadena, Director of the ELCA Project, for the information about the survey. We are also grateful to Luis Eduardo Arango, Jesús Otero, Rainer Winkelmann, and Héctor Zárate for their comments and suggestions. We also wish to thank Carmen Cecilia Delgado, Helena González, and Sonia Salazar for their excellent research assistance. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Banco de la República or its Board of Directors.


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Copyright information

© ISEG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana María Iregui-Bohórquez
    • 1
  • Ligia Alba Melo-Becerra
    • 1
  • María Teresa Ramírez-Giraldo
    • 1
  1. 1.Banco de la RepúblicaBogotáColombia

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