BREAD Working Paper No. 536, February 2018

Labor Supply Responses to Health Shocks: Evidence from High-Frequency Labor Market Data from Urban Ghana

Rachel Heath, Ghazala Mansuri, Bob Rijkers


Workers in developing countries are subject to frequent health shocks. Using ten weeks of high frequency labor market data that we collected in urban Ghana, we document that men are 11 percentage points more likely to work in weeks in which another adult in the household is unexpectedly ill the whole week. These effects are strongest among men in less wealthy households, those who very risk averse, and those who are the highest earners in their household. By contrast, women display a net zero response to other worker’s illness, even women who are the highest earners in their household.

Keywords: labor supply, health shocks, Ghana, urban labor market

JEL classification codes: J22, O12, I15

Download paper in PDF format