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Unemployment and health: contextual-level influences on the production of health in populations

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  • Béland, Francois
  • Birch, Stephen
  • Stoddart, Greg
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    Abstract

    While there is a large and growing literature investigating the relationship between an individual's employment status and health, considerably less is known about the effect on this relationship of the context in which unemployment occurs. The aim of this paper is test for the presence and nature of contextual effects in the ways unemployment and health are related, based on a simple underlying model of stress, social support and health using a large population health survey. An individual's health can be influenced directly by own exposure to unemployment and by exposure to unemployment in the individual's context, and indirectly by the effects these exposures have on the relationship between other health determinants and health. Based on this conceptualization an empirical model, using multi-level analysis, is formulated that identifies a five-stage process for exploring these complex pathways through which unemployment affects health. Results showed that the association of individual unemployment with perceived health is statistically significant. Nevertheless, this study did not provide evidence to support the hypothesis that the association of unemployment with health status depends upon whether the experience of unemployment is shared with people living in the same environment. Above all, this study demonstrates both the subtlety and complexity of individual- and contextual-level influences on the health of individuals. Our results caution against simplistic interpretations of the unemployment-health relationship and reinforce the importance of using multi-level statistical methods for investigation of it.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 55 (2002)
    Issue (Month): 11 (December)
    Pages: 2033-2052

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:55:y:2002:i:11:p:2033-2052

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    Related research

    Keywords: Unemployment Population health Contextual effect Multi-level models Survey data set Census data set Canada;

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    Cited by:
    1. Raphael Nawrotzki & Thomas W. Dickinson & Lori Hunter, 2012. "Natural resources and rural livelihoods," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 26(24), pages 661-700, June.
    2. Gail Pacheco, 2012. "The cost of poor transitions for youth," Working Papers 2012-09, Auckland University of Technology, Department of Economics.
    3. Martine AUDIBERT & Jean-Yves LE HESRAN & Stéphanie DOS SANTOS & Hervé LAFARGE & Richard LALOU & Georges KONE, 2013. "Use of health care among the urban poor in Africa: Does the neighbourhood have an impact?," Working Papers 201319, CERDI.
    4. Gail Pacheco & Jessica Dye, 2013. "Estimating the Cost of Youth Disengagement in New Zealand," Working Papers 2013-04, Auckland University of Technology, Department of Economics.
    5. Browning, Martin & Heinesen, Eskil, 2012. "Effect of job loss due to plant closure on mortality and hospitalization," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 599-616.

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