In addition to the obvious problems created by job loss, The New York Times reports that “a growing body of research suggests that layoffs can have profound health consequences.”
One 2006 study by a group of epidemiologists at Yale found that layoffs more than doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke among older workers. Another paper, published last year by Kate W. Strully, a sociology professor at the State University of New York at Albany, found that a person who lost a job had an 83 percent greater chance of developing a stress-related health problem, like diabetes, arthritis or psychiatric issues.
In perhaps the most sobering finding, a study published last year found that layoffs can affect life expectancy. The paper, by Till von Wachter, a Columbia University economist, and Daniel G. Sullivan, director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, examined death records and earnings data in Pennsylvania during the recession of the early 1980s and concluded that death rates among high-seniority male workers jumped by 50 percent to 100 percent in the year after a job loss, depending on the worker’s age. Even 20 years later, deaths were 10 percent to 15 percent higher. That meant a worker who lost his job at age 40 had his life expectancy cut by a year to a year and half.
None of this is terribly surprising, but the degree of the impact is striking, as is another study showing that “‘persistent perceived job insecurity’ was itself a powerful predictor of poor health and might even be more damaging than actual job loss.”
That article [doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2003.10.071], incidentally, is pretty interesting.
Economic recessions, the industrial shift from manufacturing toward service industries, and rising global competition have contributed to uncertainty about job security, with potential consequences for workers’ health….. [P]ersistent perceived job insecurity is a significant and substantively important predictor of poorer self-rated health in the American’s Changing Lives (ACL) and Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) samples, and of depressive symptoms among ACL respondents. Job losses or unemployment episodes are associated with perceived job insecurity, but do not account for its association with health. Results are robust to controls for sociodemographic and job characteristics, negative reporting style, and earlier health and health behaviors.
This is in keeping with other research showing that anticipation of losses or punishment can be as bad as the punishment itself.
Okay, back to work….