Bad Jobs Worse Than Unemployment for Health

Bad Jobs Worse Than Unemployment for HealthBad Jobs Worse Than Unemployment for Health

People in low-paid or high-stress jobs may experience worse health problems than those who are unemployed, a new study has found.

Researchers at the University of Manchester examined the self-reported health and chronic stress levels of more than 1,000 participants aged 35-75 as they moved through different employment statuses.

The aim of the study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, was to examine the association of job transition with health and stress. The researchers were particularly interested in comparing the health of those who remained unemployed with those who transitioned to poor quality work, and examining whether the health impacts of good or poor quality jobs.

Their findings revealed that the highest levels of chronic stress were among adults who moved from unemployment into poor-quality work. By contrast, those who moved from unemployment into a good-quality job had the lowest levels of stress.

 “Job quality cannot be disregarded from the employment success of the unemployed,” Tarani Chandola, professor of medical sociology at the University of Manchester and the paper’s lead author, said in a report published on the university’s website.

“Just as good work is good for health, we must also remember that poor-quality work can be detrimental for health.”

Professor Sir Cary Cooper, president of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and professor of organizational psychology and health at Manchester Business School, also said that, “The popular mantra is that work is better for you than not working and on balance this is true. But it has to be good work.”

“If the work is not good, it is probably just as damaging as being unemployed; being stuck in a job with, for example, a bullying culture and a heavy workload, and being unable to move out of it because of a lack of other opportunities, is bound to damage your mental and emotional wellbeing,” he added.

Cooper warned that health and wellbeing in the workplace could worsen in the near future, as employees grapple with the stresses of greater job insecurity and general economic uncertainty.

An earlier study by the Institute for Public Policy Research found that young people in temporary jobs are 29% more likely to suffer mental health issues than those in full-time work, while workers who believe they have more than a 50% chance of losing their job are twice as likely to experience mental health problems compared with those who feel secure in their role.

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