Do high levels of unemployment influence the health of those who are not unemployed? A gendered comparison of young men and women during boom and recession
Research has shown that health among young people, particularly women, deteriorates during a recession compared to a boom. It seems that the trade cycle mainly affects the health of those who are not long-term unemployed. The aim of this study was to analyse the relation between the health of non-unemployed people and the levels of unemployment in society. Two groups of young people aged 21 were surveyed, one in 1986 (the boom group, n=1083) and one in 1994 (the recession group, n=898). The non-response rate was 2% in the first and 10% in the second group. Both groups were investigated with a self-administered questionnaire, which included questions about somatic and psychological health, as well as experiences of employment, unemployment, education and labour market programmes. Young men and women generally reported more somatic and psychological symptoms during recession than boom. The only exception was psychological symptoms among men, which was of the same magnitude during both periods. Poorer health during recession was found among women in work and in labour market programmes, as well as among both male and female students. Multiple regression analysis was performed in order to analyse if the occupational-related health effects of the trade cycle remained after controlling for possible moderating factors. The effects of unemployment in society on young people's health may be mediated through pessimism about the future, high demands and financial problems. Lack of control over the work situation may also be an important contributing factor to ill health among women during recession. The trade cycle was correlated with ill health among women only. Possible explanations for poorer health among women during a recession were discussed.
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Volume (Year): 53 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
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