Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2003;29(1):5-14    pdf


Factors influencing the impact of unemployment on mental health among young and older adults in a longitudinal, population-based survey

by Breslin FC, Mustard C

Objectives This study examined the relationship between unemployment and mental health. It particularly emphasized the potential differences in mental health status between younger workers entering the labor market and older workers with established laborforce involvement.

Methods With the use of the National Population Health Survey in Canada, over 6000 respondents between 18 and 55 years of age in 1994 were followed up 2 years later.

Results The results suggest that, among the 31- to 55-year-olds, becoming unemployed led to increases in distress and, to some extent, clinical depression at follow-up. This association between unemployment and mental health was not found among younger adults 18 to 30 years of age. Possible explanations for the null finding among young adults, such as decreased likelihood of low household income or increased likelihood of distressed young adults completely withdrawing from the workforce, were not supported. The notion that baseline mental health affects the chances of being unemployed at the time of a 24-month follow-up were partially supported.

Conclusions These findings from a representative sample suggest that both causation and selection processes lead to an association between unemployment and distress among older adults.

The following article refers to this text: 2014;40(5):473-482