A new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology kept tabs on 1,116 British adults ages 35 to 75 during periods of unemployment during 2009 and 2010, and then periods of employment two to three years later. The U.K. Household Longitudinal Study analyzed the physical and mental health of the subjects, taking into account the effect of chronic stress during both times of unemployment and times of unemployment.
Questions posed to the participants focused on topics like job satisfaction, job anxiety, and job security. Participants also had their blood pressure, cholesterol, kidney function, and other key vital signs checked.
Participants who took so-called “bad jobs” saw much higher signs of chronic stress (inflammation, poor kidney function) and poorer mental health than those who remained unemployed. On the other side of the spectrum, people who managed to land good jobs saw their physical and mental health improve noticeably.
The study authors, Nan Zhang and Tarani Chandola of the University of Manchester, note how important the findings are when job-hunting.
“Job quality cannot be disregarded from the employment success of the unemployed and may have important implications for their health and well-being. Just as ‘good work is good for health,’ we must also remember poor quality work can be detrimental for health.”
It should also be noted that in the U.K., workers do not lose their government health insurance when they become unemployed, so the decline in health does not denote a drop off in treatment.