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Job Insecurity Linked to Poor Health and Depression

Persistent fear of job loss has stronger association with health effects than actual job loss

FRIDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- People who are constantly afraid they may lose their jobs report poorer health and more depressive symptoms, according to a study in the September issue of Social Science & Medicine.

Sarah A. Burgard, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used data from the 1986 American's Changing Lives (ACL) study (with follow-up to 2002) and the 1995 to 1996 Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study (with follow-up to 2005), which reflected the effects of unemployment peaks in 1983 (10 percent unemployment) and 1992 (7.5 percent unemployment) and subsequent fluctuations. Self-reported health and depressive symptoms and perceived job security were analyzed for associations.

Among ACL respondents, the researchers note that approximately 18 percent reported job insecurity in 1986 and 15 percent in 1989. Among MIDUS respondents, approximately 16 percent reported job insecurity in 1995 and 13 percent in 2005. The persistent perception of job insecurity was a significant predictor of poorer self-rated health in both of the studies and of depressive symptoms in the ACL study. While actual job loss was associated with the feeling of job insecurity, the researchers found job loss did not account for the association with health.

"Our findings have potential implications for policy and intervention. Persistently insecure workers appear to be at risk of negative health consequences, and identification and monitoring are needed so that solutions can be tailored to their experiences," the authors write.

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