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The scarring effect of unemployment throughout adulthood on psychological distress at age 50: Estimates controlling for early adulthood distress and childhood psychological factors

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  • Daly, M.
  • Delaney, L.

Abstract

Unemployment is an established predictor of psychological distress. Despite this robust relationship, the long-term impact of unemployment on human welfare has been examined in relatively few studies. In this investigation we test the association between the life-time duration of unemployment over a 34 year period from 1974 to 2008 and psychological distress at age 50 years in a sample of 6253 British adults who took part in the National Child Development Study (NCDS). In addition to adjusting for demographic characteristics, we account for the role of childhood psychological factors, which have been shown to predict adult occupational and mental health outcomes and may determine the connection between unemployment and distress. We find that intelligence and behavioral/emotional problems at age 11 predict both unemployment and psychological distress later in life. Furthermore, as predicted, the duration of unemployment throughout adulthood was associated with elevated levels of psychological distress at age 50, after adjusting for demographic characteristics including labor force status at age 50. The emotional impact of unemployment was only marginally attenuated by the inclusion of childhood factors and early-life distress levels in the analyses. Thus, unemployment may lead to worsening distress levels that persist over time and which cannot be attributed to childhood or early-life well-being or cognitive functioning early in life. Our analysis further supports the idea of psychological scarring from unemployment and the importance of employment outcomes for adult well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Daly, M. & Delaney, L., 2013. "The scarring effect of unemployment throughout adulthood on psychological distress at age 50: Estimates controlling for early adulthood distress and childhood psychological factors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 19-23.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:80:y:2013:i:c:p:19-23
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.12.008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Baert, Stijn & De Visschere, Sarah & Schoors, Koen & Vandenberghe, Désirée & Omey, Eddy, 2016. "First depressed, then discriminated against?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 247-254.
    2. repec:spr:jhappi:v:18:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9773-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Alberto Montagnoli & Mirko Moro, 2014. "Everybody Hurts: Banking Crises and Individual Wellbeing," Working Papers 2014010, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    4. Ngai, Steven Sek-yum & Cheung, Chau-kiu & Yuan, Rui & Lin, Shen, 2016. "Work motivation of unemployed youths: Moderating effects of financial dependence on parents," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 157-165.
    5. Egan, Mark & Daly, Michael & Delaney, Liam, 2015. "Childhood psychological distress and youth unemployment: Evidence from two British cohort studies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 11-17.
    6. Clemens Hetschko & Andreas Knabe & Ronnie Schöb, 2014. "Looking Back in Anger? Retirement and Unemployment Scarring," CESifo Working Paper Series 4784, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Marco Caliendo & Ricarda Schmidl, 2016. "Youth unemployment and active labor market policies in Europe," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-30, December.
    8. van der Meer, Peter H. & Wielers, Rudi, 2016. "Happiness, unemployment and self-esteem," Research Report 16016-HRM&OB, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    9. repec:spr:soinre:v:135:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1472-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Sarah Gibney & Mark E. McGovern & Erika Sabbath, 2013. "Social Relationships in Later Life: The Role of Childhood Circumstances," Working Papers 201319, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    11. Christian Scheve & Frederike Esche & Jürgen Schupp, 2017. "The Emotional Timeline of Unemployment: Anticipation, Reaction, and Adaptation," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 1231-1254, August.
    12. Loretta G. Platts, 2015. "A prospective analysis of labour market status and self-rated health in the UK and Russia," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 23(2), pages 343-370, April.

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