Health consequences of youth unemployment--review from a gender perspective

Soc Sci Med. 1994 Mar;38(5):699-709. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(94)90460-x.


Current research is classified into different theoretical approaches, mainly economic deprivation theories, stress-related theories, gender theories and different psychological and sociological theories. The correlations between unemployment and ill-health are explained as a result of both selection and exposure. The societal consequences of youth unemployment have been studied in aggregate studies. The familial consequences is a neglected area, but there is evidence of increased illness as well as battering of wives and children. Almost all research has been focused on the individual and mainly on the psychological consequences. Consistent relationships are found between unemployment and minor psychological disorders. Few studies have included somatic health but the results indicate increased physiological illness, especially among unemployed girls. Increased health care consumption has been documented. There are evidence that unemployment is a risk indicator for both increasing alcohol consumption, particularly in young men. Unemployment is also associated with increased tobacco consumption, increased use of illicit drugs as well as deteriorated health behaviour. The mortality rate is significantly higher among unemployed young men and women, especially in suicides and accidents. Social consequences include increased risk of alienation, lack of financial resources, criminality and future exclusion from the labour market. As mediating factors social support, high employment rate, negative attitudes towards work and high possibility of control have been documented to have a protective effect on health. Research should now be directed towards more qualitative methods, based on theoretical models, in order to search for deeper mechanisms, mediating factors and explanatory theories of the unevenly distributed health in society, in which unemployment has been proved to be one important factor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Social Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Unemployment / statistics & numerical data*