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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


  • Novo, Mehmed
  • Hammarström, Anne
  • Janlert, Urban


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Novo, Mehmed & Hammarström, Anne & Janlert, Urban, 2001. "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," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 293-303, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:53:y:2001:i:3:p:293-303

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    Cited by:

    1. Cem Mete, 2005. "Predictors of elderly mortality:health status, socioeconomic characteristics and social determinants of health," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(2), pages 135-148.
    2. Cutler, David M. & Huang, Wei & Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2015. "When does education matter? The protective effect of education for cohorts graduating in bad times," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 63-73.
    3. Roelfs, David J. & Shor, Eran & Davidson, Karina W. & Schwartz, Joseph E., 2011. "Losing life and livelihood: A systematic review and meta-analysis of unemployment and all-cause mortality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(6), pages 840-854, March.
    4. Cem Mete & T. Paul Schultz, 2002. "Health and Labor Force Participation of the Elderly in Taiwan," Working Papers 846, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    5. Esteban Calvo & Christine Mair, 2014. "The Multiplicative Effect of Individual- and Country-level Unemployment on Life Satisfaction in 97 Nations (1981-2009)," Working Papers 49, Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad Diego Portales.
    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. Svensson, Mikael, 2007. "Do not go breaking your heart: Do economic upturns really increase heart attack mortality?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 833-841, August.
    8. Mikael Svensson & Niclas Krüger, 2012. "Mortality and economic fluctuations," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(4), pages 1215-1235, October.
    9. Katharina Rathmann & Timo-Kolja Pförtner & Klaus Hurrelmann & Ana M. Osorio & Lucia Bosakova & Frank J. Elgar & Matthias Richter, 2016. "The great recession, youth unemployment and inequalities in psychological health complaints in adolescents: a multilevel study in 31 countries," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 61(7), pages 809-819, September.


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