- 8,125 individuals that were surveyed in 1999, 2001, and 2003 by the U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics had their employment and health data analyzed by a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health. This researcher found that compared to people who were continuously employed, workers who lost a job through no fault of their own were twice as likely to report developing a new ailment like blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease over the next year and half. Interestingly, compared to those who remained unemployed, the risk was just as high for those who found new jobs quickly.1
- Job loss and other life stressors can contribute to the development of chronic conditions and can have a tremendous impact on both mental and physical health, which this study reminds us of.1
- Unemployment can lead to alterations in health behavior and it can cause changes in physiological function in multiple ways. This can be seen in times of stress as people tend to smoke more, no longer exercise, eat more, and drink more.1
- Basic life requirements are met through employment for most individuals. Work can satisfy creative urges, promote self-esteem, and provide an avenue for achievement and self-realization, in addition to supplying the means for physical needs. However, unemployment may produce adverse health consequences, lead to lower self-esteem, and might be expected to lead to anxiety and depression, especially if one is unable to locate work over some time.2
- Whether one is examining national trends in health and death rates or specific changes in selected individuals over time, one underlying theme that has been found in research is that unemployment is considered a stressful event which has the potential to affect mortality and morbidity.2
- Economic downturn for low status occupational groups was found to be significantly related to inpatient first admissions to hospitals in a state system. It was also found that there was a significant relationship between unemployment and hospital readmission rate for psychiatric reasons.2
1.Rabin, Roni Caryn. (8, May 2009). Unemployment May Be Hazardous to Your Health. The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2009, from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/09/health/09sick.html
2. M.W Linn, R Sandifer, S Stein. Effects of unemployment on mental and physical health. American Journal of Public Health. 1985 May; 75(5): 502-506.