Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Recovering from job loss: Most report few long-term psychological effects

14.12.2010
Results challenge previous findings on unemployment and mental health

Losing a job is a profoundly distressing experience, but the unemployed may be more resilient than previously believed – the vast majority eventually end up as satisfied with life as they were before they lost their jobs, according to a new analysis published by the American Psychological Association.

"Unemployment rates continue to be historically high in the United States and other countries," said the study's lead author, Isaac Galatzer-Levy, PhD, who is now at New York University School of Medicine. "There's a real concern that this will have long-term implications on the mental well-being of a large portion of the work force. But this analysis suggests that people are able to cope with a job loss relatively well over time."

Galatzer-Levy and his colleagues analyzed results of the German Socioeconomic Panel Data study. This is a nationally representative survey of German households conducted yearly from 1984 to 2003. Their findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics.

For this analysis, the researchers used data from 774 participants who had all lost their jobs at some point during the study. Included in this analysis were the participants' own reports of well-being in the three years before they lost their jobs until four years after the job loss. Specifically, they were asked, "How satisfied are you nowadays with your life as a whole?" Respondents rated this question on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being completely satisfied. They were also asked about their sex, age, education and employment status. The researchers also gathered national and regional unemployment rates during the time of the study.

"Because we used a large representative sample, unemployment follows broad economic trends in Germany," said Galatzer-Levy. "Just like in the current climate, these are people who are losing jobs not due to fault of their own, but because they're the victims of large market forces."

The researchers divided the participants into four groups based on their life satisfaction reports. The largest group (69 percent) reported a relatively high and stable level of life satisfaction before losing their jobs. These people were more likely to be negatively affected at the time they lost their jobs but a year later, their average life satisfaction had returned to its pre-unemployment level. The researchers also observed that people in this group were no more or less likely to regain employment by the end of the study.

For the second largest group, 15 percent of respondents, their well-being was gradually improving before losing their jobs and then leveled off in the four years following their unemployment.

Another group (13 percent) reported relatively low levels of life satisfaction before job loss, and their levels stayed more or less the same throughout the time of the researchers' analysis.

Well-being levels among the smallest group (4 percent) were already declining in the years leading up to unemployment and continued to decline after job loss until it began to go back up in the third year. But these people never fully returned to pre-unemployment levels, according to the findings. This last group was also the least likely to be re-employed in the years after they lost their jobs.

"Previous analysis of this same data suggested that people never really returned to pre-unemployment levels of life satisfaction. Using a different analytical model, we are able to identify these distinct patterns that are more representative of people's different responses to unemployment," said Galatzer-Levy. "Our model suggests responses to unemployment do not represent a unified phenomenon as previously believed. In fact, most people cope well with this event and report few long-term effects on their overall well-being."

The findings are quite similar to a pattern of resilience psychologists see across a wide range of stressful events, according to the study's co-author, George Bonanno, PhD, a psychology professor at Columbia University. "We've looked at other traumatic events such as the death of a loved one, terrorist attack, traumatic injury, and we generally always see high proportions of resilience. This is one of the first studies to show that this same pattern relates to unemployment," he said.

Furthermore, they found that broad economic patterns have a strong effect on people's sense of well-being before but not during unemployment. Also, people seemed to be more negatively affected by regional unemployment rates than national unemployment rates.

"This suggests that people are more stressed out when they fear losing their jobs than they are when they actually get laid off," said Bonanno. "When massive job layoffs come closer to home and are observed in their communities, people are more likely to feel they are next and their well-being drops significantly as a result."

Contact Dr. Isaac Galatzer-Levy by e-mail at isaac.gl@gmail.com; or by phone at (847) 420-2527.

Contact Dr. George Bonanno by e-mail at gab38@columbia.edu; or by phone at (212) 678-3468.

Article: "From Marianthal to Latent Growth Mixture Modeling: A Return to the Exploration of Individual Differences in Response to Unemployment," Isaac R. Galatzer-Levy and George A. Bonanno, PhD, Columbia University; Anthony D. Mancini, PhD, Pace University. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics, Vol. 3, No.2.

Full text of the article available from the APA Public Affairs Office and at http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/npe-3-2-116.pdf.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

Audrey Hamilton | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.apa.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>