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Psychological distress during unemployment and beyond: social support and material deprivation among youth in six northern European countries


  • Bjarnason, Thoroddur
  • Sigurdardottir, Thordis J.


Psychological distress is a serious problem among unemployed youth, and may lead to various social and psychological problems. In this study, we examine patterns of distress among previously unemployed youth that have experienced five different labor market outcomes over a period of 6 months in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Scotland and Sweden. We find that moving beyond unemployment is associated with less distress, in particular among those who have found permanent employment, but also among those who have found temporary employment, have returned to school, or are staying at home. Perceptions of material deprivation and parental emotional support directly affect distress in all labor market outcomes, and mediate the effects of various other factors on such distress. The effects of socio-demographic characteristics, living arrangements, unemployment history and attitudes, and parental support are found to be specific to gender and labor market outcomes, while the effects of material deprivation are uniform across all such categories. Further studies are needed to disentangle structural and individual effects, the causal complexities involved in processes of social support, and to determine the extent to which such models equally predict psychological distress among the unemployed and other groups of youth.

Suggested Citation

  • Bjarnason, Thoroddur & Sigurdardottir, Thordis J., 2003. "Psychological distress during unemployment and beyond: social support and material deprivation among youth in six northern European countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 973-985, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:5:p:973-985

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    Cited by:

    1. Fagg, James & Curtis, Sarah & Stansfeld, Stephen A. & Cattell, Vicky & Tupuola, Ann-Marie & Arephin, Muna, 2008. "Area social fragmentation, social support for individuals and psychosocial health in young adults: Evidence from a national survey in England," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 242-254, January.
    2. Małgorzata Mikucka, 2014. "Does Individualistic Culture Lower the Well-Being of the Unemployed? Evidence from Europe," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 673-691, June.
    3. 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.


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