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Feeling useless: the effect of unemployment on mental health in the Great Recession

Author

Listed:
  • Lídia Farré

    (Universitat de Barcelona, IAE (CSIC), MOVE and IZA)

  • Francesco Fasani

    (Queen Mary University of London, CEPR and IZA)

  • Hannes Mueller

    (IAE (CSIC), Barcelona GSE, CEPR and MOVE)

Abstract

This article documents a strong connection between unemployment and mental distress using data from the Spanish National Health Survey. We exploit the collapse of the construction sector to identify the causal effect of job losses in different segments of the Spanish labor market. Our results suggest that an increase of the unemployment rate by 10 percentage points due to the breakdown in construction raised reported poor health and mental disorders in the affected population by 3 percentage points, respectively. We argue that the size of this effect responds to the fact that the construction sector was at the center of the economic recession. As a result, workers exposed to the negative labor demand shock faced very low chances of re-entering employment. We show that this led to long unemployment spells, stress, hopelessness, and feelings of uselessness. These effects point towards a potential channel for unemployment hysteresis.

Suggested Citation

  • Lídia Farré & Francesco Fasani & Hannes Mueller, 2018. "Feeling useless: the effect of unemployment on mental health in the Great Recession," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 7(1), pages 1-34, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:izalbr:v:7:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1186_s40172-018-0068-5
    DOI: 10.1186/s40172-018-0068-5
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    2. Samuel Bentolila & J. Ignacio García-Pérez & Marcel Jansen, 2017. "Are the Spanish long-term unemployed unemployable?," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 1-41, March.
    3. Devillanova, Carlo & Raitano, Michele & Struffolino, Emanuela, 2019. "Longitudinal employment trajectories and health in middle life: Insights from linked administrative and survey data," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 1375-1412.
    4. Precious Mncayi & Phindile Mdluli, 2019. "Why are they not looking for employment? A South African Youth Perspective," Proceedings of International Academic Conferences 9912247, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
    5. José Ignacio Garcia-Pérez & Manuel Serrano-Alarcón & Judit Vall Castelló, 2020. "Long-term unemployment subsidies and middle-age disadvantaged workers’ health," Working Papers 2020/16, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
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    7. Fasani, Francesco & Frattini, Tommaso & Minale, Luigi, 2020. "Lift the Ban? Initial Employment Restrictions and Refugee Labour Market Outcomes," CEPR Discussion Papers 14765, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Antonia Lopez Villavicencio & Maria Cervini, 2019. "The mental health consequences of globalisation," EconomiX Working Papers 2019-26, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    9. Jonathan de Quidt & Johannes Haushofer, 2017. "Depression through the Lens of Economics: A Research Agenda," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Poverty Traps, pages 127-152, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Di Maio, Michele & Nisticò, Roberto, 2019. "The effect of parental job loss on child school dropout: Evidence from the Occupied Palestinian Territories," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 141(C).
    11. Olivier Bargain & Laurine Martinoty, 2019. "Crisis at home: mancession-induced change in intrahousehold distribution," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 32(1), pages 277-308, January.
    12. Daniel Albalate & Germà Bel & Lídia Farré, 2020. "An analysis on the success of privately-led job search assistance programs against social exclusion," IREA Working Papers 202002, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Feb 2020.
    13. Barone, Adriana & Barra, Cristian, 2019. "Weight status and mental health in Italy: Evidence from EHIS2 microdata," MPRA Paper 96703, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Alloush, M., 2018. "Income, Psychological Well-being, and the Dynamics of Poverty: Evidence from South Africa," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 274223, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    15. Dain Jung & Do Won Kwak & Kam Ki Tang & Myra Yazbeck, 2021. "How Do Job Conditions Amplify the Impacts of Mental Health Shocks?," Discussion Papers Series 647, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    16. Jonathan de Quidt & Johannes Haushofer, 2016. "Depression for Economists," NBER Working Papers 22973, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Victoria Baranov & Sonia Bhalotra & Pietro Biroli & Joanna Maselko, 2017. "Maternal Depression, Women’s Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Large Randomized Control Trial," CHILD Working Papers Series 60 JEL Classification: I1, Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic Economics (CHILD) - CCA.
    18. Lee, Y-W.;, 2019. "Effects of Parental Job Loss and Insecurity on Children’s Health: Evidence from Korea," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 19/09, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    19. Suppa, Nicolai, 2021. "Unemployment and subjective well-being," GLO Discussion Paper Series 760, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    20. Zimmer, David M., 2021. "The effect of job displacement on mental health, when mental health feeds back to future job displacement," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 360-366.
    21. O’Leary, Nigel & Li, Ian W. & Gupta, Prashant & Blackaby, David, 2020. "Wellbeing trajectories around life events in Australia," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 499-509.
    22. Vodopivec, Matija & Laporsek, Suzana & Stare, Janez & Vodopivec, Milan, 2021. "The Effects of Unemployment on Health, Hospitalizations, and Mortality - Evidence from Administrative Data," IZA Discussion Papers 14318, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    23. Adriana Barone & Cristian Barra, 2020. "The Relationship between Employment and Mental Health Problems in Italy: Evidence from EHIS2 Microdata," Working Papers 3_240, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Statistiche, Università degli Studi di Salerno, revised Jul 2020.
    24. Victoria Baranov & Sonia Bhalotra & Pietro Biroli & Joanna Maselko, 2018. "Maternal Depression, Women’s Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial," Working Papers 2018-021, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    25. Baranov, Victoria & Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Biroli, Pietro & Maselko, Joanna, 2017. "Maternal Depression, Women's Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Large Randomized Control Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 11187, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Mental health; Great Recession; Unemployment; Hysteresis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • C26 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation

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