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Unemployment and mental health: A critical review

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  • Ezzy, Douglas

Abstract

Existing theoretical explanations of the mental health consequences of unemployment are outlined, critically reviewed and an alternative theory proposed. Theories reviewed include the rehabilitation approach, the stages model, Jahoda's functional model, Warr's vitamin model and Fryer's agency critique. A discussion of the effects of moderating variables--including the quality of work, work commitment and age--is used to assess the usefulness of these theoretical explanations. Most theories are found to deal inadequately with the temporal aspects of unemployment, the relationship between subjective experience and objective location and the complexity of the effects of moderating variables. In response to these inadequacies and in contrast to the predominant empiricist, psychological orientation, a middle range theory is proposed informed by a sociological perspective. The proposed theory conceptualises unemployment as a type of status passage and suggests an explanation of changes in mental health derived from identity theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Ezzy, Douglas, 1993. "Unemployment and mental health: A critical review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 41-52, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:37:y:1993:i:1:p:41-52
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ahs, Annika Maria Helen & Westerling, Ragnar, 2006. "Health care utilization among persons who are unemployed or outside the labour force," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 78(2-3), pages 178-193, October.
    2. Wahl, Ingrid & Pollai, Maria & Kirchler, Erich, 2013. "Status, identification and in-group favouritism of the unemployed compared to other social categories," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 37-43.
    3. Steven Kennedy, 2003. "Immigrant Mental Health and Unemployment," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 92, McMaster University.
    4. Østhus, Ståle, 2012. "Health effects of downsizing survival and job loss in Norway," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(5), pages 946-953.
    5. Susan L. Ettner & Richard G. Frank & Ronald C. Kessler, 1997. "The Impact of Psychiatric Disorders on Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 5989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Melisa Bubonya & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & David C. Ribar, 2017. "The Bilateral Relationship between Depressive Symptoms and Employment Status," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2017n10, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    7. Chia-Lin Chang & Michael McAleer & Wing-Keung Wong, 2015. "Behavioural, Financial, and Health & Medical Economics: A Connection," Documentos de Trabajo del ICAE 2015-14, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales, Instituto Complutense de Análisis Económico.
    8. Martin Binder & Alex Coad, 2015. "Heterogeneity in the Relationship Between Unemployment and Subjective Wellbeing: A Quantile Approach," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 82(328), pages 865-891, October.
    9. repec:spr:soinre:v:135:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1472-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Cygan-Rehm, Kamila & Kühnle, Daniel & Oberfichtner, Michael, 2017. "Bounding the Causal Effect of Unemployment on Mental Health: Nonparametric Evidence from Four Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 10652, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Butterworth, Peter & Gill, Sarah C. & Rodgers, Bryan & Anstey, Kaarin J. & Villamil, Elena & Melzer, David, 2006. "Retirement and mental health: Analysis of the Australian national survey of mental health and well-being," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(5), pages 1179-1191, March.
    12. Schiele, Valentin & Schmitz, Hendrik, 2016. "Quantile treatment effects of job loss on health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 59-69.

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