Unemployment Could Kill You

Unemployment As if the devastation of your personal and professional life isn't enough, a recent study now shows that unemployment can torpedo your health as well. In fact, it can kill you. The research revealed that unemployment increases the risk of premature mortality by 63 percent. You read that right: You're 63 percent more likely to die prematurely when you're unemployed.

This conclusion was not the result of a quickie phone survey. McGill Sociology Professor Eran Shor, working in collaboration with researchers from Stony Brook University, surveyed existing research covering 20 million people in 15 (mainly western) countries, over the last 40 years.

The research also showed that unemployment is much worse for men than women, from a health perspective. Unemployment increases men's mortality risk by 78 percent, while it affects women's mortality risk by 37 percent. The risk of death is particularly high for those who are under the age of 50.

"We suspect that even today, not having a job is more stressful for men than for women," Shor said. "When a man loses his job, it still often means that the family will become poorer and suffer in various ways, which in turn can have a huge impact on a man's health by leading to both increased smoking, drinking or eating and by reducing the availability of healthy nutrition and health care services."

Summarizing, Shore says, "This probably has to do with unemployment causing stress and negatively affecting one's socioeconomic status, which in turn leads to poorer health and higher mortality rates." The research suggests that public-health initiatives could target unemployed people for more aggressive cardiovascular screening and interventions aimed at reducing risk-taking behaviors.

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