Is unemployment pathogenic? A review of current concepts with lessons for policy planners

Int J Health Serv. 1996;26(3):569-89. doi: 10.2190/DLYK-Q9W7-RRYX-8WKK.


This review of current literature on the relationship between unemployment and health covers time-series studies and critiques of this approach; micro-level studies of plant closures, which have yet to provide convincing data; and various studies dealing with mortality rates, physical health, mental health, women, children and families, and youth. At particular risk are youth, the economically marginal, and middle-age men. The most common disorders documented are emotional and cardiopulmonary disease. The key to the relationship between ill-health and unemployment may lie in the emerging epidemiological literature relating health status to social hierarchy. The article concludes with suggestions as to how current knowledge on the pathogenicity of unemployment may be of use to health policy planners on issues such as guaranteed annual incomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Planning*
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Services Research
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Research Design
  • Unemployment*