Health consequences of employment and unemployment: longitudinal evidence for young men and women

Soc Sci Med. 1993 Mar;36(6):715-24. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(93)90032-y.


This study examines the impact of employment and unemployment on psychological health and well-being, as measured by the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). Using longitudinal data, it traces health changes over time for a variety of groups and through a variety of labour market experiences: during sustained employment and unemployment, in the transition from school to employment and unemployment, and as people move between employment and unemployment and between satisfying and unsatisfying jobs. The results show that employed people report significantly lower levels of health disorder than students and the unemployed. These differences are largely unaffected by demographic attributes, living arrangements, socioeconomic status or immediate labour market experiences, and can be attributed to employment status itself rather than predisposing health differences. However, the health consequences of employment and unemployment are directly contingent upon quality of work. As a result, the highest levels of health risk are found amongst dissatisfied workers and the lowest levels amongst satisfied workers. In between these two extremes lie employed people neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their jobs, unemployed people irrespective of duration, and students. These results indicate that what happens in the workplace has even more impact on a person's health than success or failure in finding a job and keeping it.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Employment* / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Unemployment* / psychology