Experts have long suggested that being unemployed is bad for your health, but new research shows a link between job loss and dying prematurely.
Scientists analyzed existing research covering 20 million people in 15 countries over the last 40 years. It was part of a larger study on the impact of stress on people’s health and mortality.
They found that unemployment increases the risk of premature death by 63 percent. That held true in different countries, regardless of the social safety net available after job loss. The researchers also found that poor health prior to unemployment did not play a role.
McGill Sociology Professor Eran Shor, who headed the study, said the stress of unemployment is one possible factor. Another reason is that unemployment could lead to negative health behaviors, such as excessive drinking, smoking or a less healthy diet.
The correlation between unemployment and mortality was much higher for men than for women; 78 percent vs. 37 percent.
Shor said the research has implications for policy makers and health-care professionals in terms of caring for the unemployed. “There are cardiovascular screening programs among the unemployed, we could do interventions increasing unemployed people’s awareness of behavioral risk factors of unhealthy behaviors, we could do stress management programs,” he said.