Psychological and physical well-being during unemployment: a meta-analytic study

J Appl Psychol. 2005 Jan;90(1):53-76. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.90.1.53.


The authors used theoretical models to organize the diverse unemployment literature, and meta-analytic techniques were used to examine the impact of unemployment on worker well-being across 104 empirical studies with 437 effect sizes. Unemployed individuals had lower psychological and physical well-being than did their employed counterparts. Unemployment duration and sample type (school leaver vs. mature unemployed) moderated the relationship between mental health and unemployment, but the current unemployment rate and the amount of unemployment benefits did not. Within unemployed samples, work-role centrality, coping resources (personal, social, financial, and time structure), cognitive appraisals, and coping strategies displayed stronger relationships with mental health than did human capital or demographic variables. The authors identify gaps in the literature and propose directions for future unemployment research.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Self Concept
  • Unemployment / psychology*