May 10, 2022 | Press Release

UK: Testosterone Reduces Risk of Becoming Unemployed

© iStockphoto.com/Chalirmpoj Pimpisarn

British men with comparatively high testosterone levels are less likely to become unemployed and have an increased chance to find a new job. That is what the recent study by Peter Eibich, Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock and colleagues finds. The paper was published in “Economics & Human Biology”.

Testosterone reduces the risk of becoming unemployed and increases the chances of leaving unemployment for British men. Previous research has already suggested that testosterone is associated with personality traits and behavior that are likely relevant for labor market outcomes. However, while some previous studies have considered whether testosterone affects the likelihood of being in work and being self-employed, they only considered labor market status at one point in time. “Our paper examines labor market transitions, for example changes in unemployment, over time”, says Peter Eibich.

Why does Testosterone improve labor market outcomes?

Asking about the reasons for the positive effect of Testosterone on employment the researchers find some evidence that suggests that these effects are due to differences in cognitive and non-cognitive skills: Men with higher testosterone levels have higher levels of numerical ability and are more likely to report that they are able to face their problems. “While these associations are suggestive evidence for a mechanism connecting testosterone levels to labor market transitions, we cannot definitively show that they are causing the unemployment effects we see in our data”, says Peter Eibich.

The researchers examined labor market transitions for 2,004 initially employed and 111 initially un-employed British men aged 25 to 60 who took part in the UK Household Longitudinal Study between 2011 and 2013.

“We looked into the effects of testosterone, because we are interested in the relationship between biomarkers and economic outcomes. Our findings on testosterone are particularly interesting because they show how biological processes beyond ill-health and disability affect labor market behavior”, says Peter Eibich.

Original Publication

Eibich, P., Kanabar, R., Plum, A., Schmied, J.: In and out of unemployment – labour market transitions and the role of testosterone. Economics & Human Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2022.101123

Authors and Affiliations

Peter Eibich, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock

Ricky Kanabar, University of Bath

Alexander Plum, New Zealand Work Research Institute, Auckland University of Technology

Julian Schmied, Free University of Berlin, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock

FAQ about the Study by its Authors

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MPIDR-Authors of the Paper

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Julian Schmied

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The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.