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

Author

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

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Béland, Francois & Birch, Stephen & Stoddart, Greg, 2002. "Unemployment and health: contextual-level influences on the production of health in populations," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(11), pages 2033-2052, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:55:y:2002:i:11:p:2033-2052
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Giatti, Luana & Barreto, Sandhi M. & César, Cibele C., 2010. "Unemployment and self-rated health: Neighborhood influence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(4), pages 815-823, August.
    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 Karna KONE, 2013. "Use of health care among the urban poor in Africa: Does the neighbourhood have an impact?," Working Papers 201319, CERDI.
    4. Eliason, Marcus & Storrie, Donald, 2009. "Job loss is bad for your health - Swedish evidence on cause-specific hospitalization following involuntary job loss," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(8), pages 1396-1406, April.
    5. Tipper, Adam, 2010. "Economic models of the family and the relationship between economic status and health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(10), pages 1567-1573, May.
    6. Lourdes Rey & Natalio Extremera & María Angeles Peláez-Fernández, 2016. "Linking Social Support to Psychological Distress in the Unemployed: The Moderating Role of Core Self-Evaluations," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 435-445, May.
    7. 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.
    8. Zunzunegui, Maria-Victoria & Forster, Mathieu & Gauvin, Lise & Raynault, Marie-France & Douglas Willms, J., 2006. "Community unemployment and immigrants' health in Montreal," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 485-500, July.
    9. Lars Kroll & Thomas Lampert, 2011. "Changing health inequalities in Germany from 1994 to 2008 between employed and unemployed adults," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 56(3), pages 329-339, June.
    10. Broom, Dorothy H. & D'Souza, Rennie M. & Strazdins, Lyndall & Butterworth, Peter & Parslow, Ruth & Rodgers, Bryan, 2006. "The lesser evil: Bad jobs or unemployment? A survey of mid-aged Australians," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 575-586, August.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.

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