Unemployment Rate, Smoking in China: Are They Related?

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Studies on the relationship between unemployment rate and smoking have yielded mixed results. The issue in China has not been studied. This study aims to examine the influence of unemployment rate on smoking in China. Methods: Logit model and two-stage least squares (2SLS) estimation were used to estimate the effects. Estimations were done for 4585 individual over 45 using data from China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study conducted in Zhejiang and Gansu provinces in 2008 and 2012. Results: A percent increase in the unemployment rate resulted in the increase in the likelihood of smoking by a combined 9.1 percent for those who smoked including a 2.9% increase for those who smoked 1–10 cigarettes per day; a 2.8% increase for those who smoked 11–20 cigarettes per day; and a 3.4% increase for those who smoked 20 cigarettes or more per day. The effects were stronger for those who were employed. Non-drinkers were more likely to engage in smoking with increased unemployment rate. 2SLS estimation revealed the same association. Conclusions: The unemployment rate was positively associated with smoking behavior. Smoking control and intervention strategies should focus on both the individual′s characteristics and the physical environment in which unemployment rate tend to rise.