Background: Youth unemployment is of increasing importance, not only as a social but also as a clinical problem.
Methods: A prospective study was conducted during a five-year period in a municipality in the northern part of Sweden, where the youth unemployment rate was between 6% and 8%. All 1,083 pupils in the last year of compulsory schooling were included in the study and 98% of them were followed up after five years. The methods of investigation consisted of comprehensive self-administered questionnaires as well as blood pressure measurements and interviews with those who had been unemployed.
Results: The main results of the study are that there is a greater increase in physical and psychological symptoms as well as smoking habits and use of cannabis among long-term unemployed young people than among those not long-term unemployed. In addition systolic blood pressure, alcohol consumption and crime rate increase more among long-term unemployed boys than among others.
Conclusions: Youth unemployment is associated with increased health symptoms, increased systolic blood pressure and a deterioration in health behaviour.