Rigorous research has shown that the state of the economy when one graduates from college does matter. And, unfortunately, given the current slow-growth labor market, it matters not just for earning in the first job after college but also for compensation years in the future. Recessions are bad on graduates' pocketbooks, at graduation and in years to come. If that's not enough, it looks like recessions could be bad for these graduates' current and future health too. J. Catherine Maclean studies the effects of graduating from college during a bad economy on physical functioning, mental functioning and depressive symptoms on men. In "The Health Effects of Leaving School in a Bad Economy," (part of Maclean's May 2012 Cornell Economics PhD thesis), she finds that men who leave school during a bad economy have worse health outcomes by age 40 than otherwise comparable men who leave school during a good economy. There is good reason economics is called the dismal science.
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Hallock, Kevin F. 2012. "Does Graduating in a Bad Economy Penalize Your Pay Tor Life?" Workspan 55 (6) (06): 12.