Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2020-03-01

Health, Labour, and the Environment: A Social Economic Analysis

Document type Thesis
Author Tumpane, Sara Kathleen
Degree Ph.D., Economics
Publisher York University; Toronto
Date 2018
Pages 171 pages


In this dissertation, I explore several social economic topics, including health, labour, and the environment. Although the chapters of this dissertation explore diverse subjects, the overall theme is to analyze important social issues and their policy implications. I made use of a variety of rich datasets, as well as employing various econometric analyses, often supported by a theoretical model, to examine the research topics identified in each chapter. In Chapter 1, I explore a 1997 policy change, which altered eligibility requirements for Disability Insurance (DI). While DI in Canada provides income support to millions, it has also been criticized for creating a disincentive for labour force participation. The 1997 change affected some Canadians, but not others, creating a natural experiment setting in which to explore this policy. I found that, following the tightening of eligibility requirements, relative labour force participation for women did increase, but their level of employment did not. There was little effect for men. This distinction between labour force participation and employment is a crucial one in this context: it indicates that what may appear to be individuals returning to work after not being eligible for DI may instead be individuals returning to the labour force, but unable to find suitable employment. In Chapter 2, I examine whether searching for health information on the internet acts as a complement or substitute for the demand for information from physicians (proxied by physician visits). I found that the effect on physician-based information hinged on an individuals prior trust in the formal medical sector: those with high prior trust tended to use health information searching on the internet as a complement for physician visits, whereas, those with low prior trust substituted away from physician visits in favour of information found online. The results were very similar when a telehealth program was examined instead of internet-based information. Further, those who were online health information searchers also tended to be more likely to use a telehealth program. This is a reassuring result, as it may mean that those who substituted out of the formal medical sector, in favour of health online information, may also be using the more quality-controlled telehealth programs. In Chapter 3, I explore how attitudes towards the environment affect behaviours in five key areas of environmental-related household consumption: waste generation and recycling, energy use, organic food consumption, personal transport, and water use. Prior studies have not examined these areas together, often due to data restrictions, and not in the context of environmental attitudes. Using a modelling procedure that allows for the errors in these five areas to be correlated, I found that attitudes were often a more significant predictor of ones behaviour than the financially driven policy implemented in the area.