Does unemployment harm mental health?

Lídia Farré, Universitat de Barcelona, IAE (CSIC), MOVE e IZA
Francesco Fasani, Queen Mary University of London, IZA e CEPR
Hannes Mueller, IAE (CSIC), Barcelona GSE e MOVE
Adaptation: Michele Catanzaro

Long-term unemployment is a probable cause of mental health disorders. This article analyses how the collapse of the construction industry left many former employees in the sector without jobs for long periods of time. An analysis of national health surveys shows the mental health of these people suffered severely during this period. The burden of these mental health problems is so great that it may even have slowed the recovery of the whole Spanish economy.
Key points
  • 1
       Between 2006 and 2011, every time the unemployment rate in the construction industry rose by ten percentage points, mental health disorders reported by workers forced out of the sector increased by around three percentage points.
  • 2
       During the economic crisis in Spain, not only did unemployment rise but also its duration increased. In 2006, 2% of the active population had been unemployed for more than two years. By 2011, this group had nearly quadrupled, reaching almost 8%.
  • 3
       In the construction industry, there was an 18-fold increase in the long-term unemployment rate, which rose from 0.1% of the active population in 2006 to almost 1.8% in 2011.
  • 4
       The bursting of the property bubble provides a unique opportunity to identify the impact of unemployment on mental health. If a significant proportion of the population becomes unemployed, this generates an addition burden that holds back economic recovery.
The impact of unemployment on mental health
The impact of unemployment on mental health

Does unemployment affect mental health, or is it the other way round? Unemployment and mental health are connected. However, some researchers have asked the question whether it is unemployment that causes mental health problems, or whether people with mental health difficulties are more likely to become jobless. The extraordinary nature of the financial crisis in Spain has made it possible to establish that in all likelihood it is unemployment that affects workers’ mental health and not vice versa.

Classification

Authors

Lídia Farré , Universitat de Barcelona, IAE (CSIC), MOVE e IZA
Francesco Fasani , Queen Mary University of London, IZA e CEPR
Hannes Mueller , IAE (CSIC), Barcelona GSE e MOVE
Adaptation: Michele Catanzaro

Tags

Subject areas

Related content

Article

Who is affected by loneliness and social isolation?

The most visible face of loneliness is the feeling of not having people to call on or trust in case of need. Who does it affect most? We analyse the influence of factors such as age and gender.

Article

Mental health outcomes in Portuguese SARS-CoV-2 survivors and the general population during the covid-19 pandemic

This study explored mental health outcomes in 640 Portuguese adults from three different groups (SARS-CoV-2 survivors, individuals who were tested but had negative results, and individuals who were never tested).

You may also find interesting

Article

Portugal, Social Balance Sheet 2021 - A portrait of the country and of the pandemic

Portugal, Social Balance Sheet 2021 - A portrait of the country and of the pandemic

Social Inclusion

“Portugal, Social Balance Sheet” is an annual report that analyses poverty and social exclusion in Portugal.

Article

How have covid-19 prevention measures affected professionals working at nursing homes?

How have covid-19 prevention measures affected professionals working at nursing homes?

Social Inclusion

The impact of covid-19 on older people in nursing homes has been thoroughly researched, but less is known about the impact on health professionals.

Article

The health and well-being of Portuguese citizens: impacts of covid-19

The health and well-being of Portuguese citizens: impacts of covid-19

Social Inclusion

This study provided data on the impact of covid-19 on the health and well-being of Portuguese respondents. Results show that they reported their health to be worse than before the pandemic and that access to healthcare was greatly affected, with surgeries or medical appointments cancelled or postponed.