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Unemployment linked to early deaths
Sun, 10 Apr 2011 10:10:17 GMT
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A new study suggests that having a proper job directly affects an individual's health and that unemployment increases the risk of dying prematurely, especially in men.

Forty years of analysis of data from 20 million people in 15 countries have revealed that being unemployed increases a person's risk of premature death by 63 percent.

After filtering income, age, sex, health status and socioeconomic status, the study outcomes indicate that unemployment in average heightens the possibility of premature death by 1.63 times.

Similarly, smoking 25 cigarettes a day increases the risk by 1.89 times.

The study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine also shows that unemployment increases men's risk of premature death by 78 percent that is much more than unemployed women whose risks of early death increases by 37 percent under the same condition.

The findings are considered significant at this point of time, especially since many countries are struggling with financial problems and high rates of unemployment amid the recent global economic crisis.

"We suspect that even today, not having a job is more stressful for men than for women," says Eran Shor, a sociology professor at McGill University.

"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 both leading him to increased smoking, drinking or eating, and reducing the availability of healthy nutrition and health-care services," he added.

"Until now, one of the big questions in the literature has been about whether pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes or heart problems, or behaviors such as smoking, drinking or drug use, lead to both unemployment and a greater risk of death," Shor said.

"What's interesting about our work is that we found that pre-existing health conditions had no effect, suggesting that the unemployment-mortality relationship is quite likely a causal one. 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," he stated.

However, the study found that pre-existing health conditions and the quality of a nation's health-care system did not affect the level of risk, suggesting a causal relationship between unemployment and mortality risk.

"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,” Shor went on to say.

The researchers also suggest that public-health initiatives could target unemployed people for more aggressive cardiovascular screening and interventions aimed at reducing risk-taking behaviors.

"Until more is known about the mechanisms by which this association occurs, more proactive primary prevention screening and interventions among the unemployed are needed," the authors concluded.

Stress-management programs aimed at getting unemployed people to give up behavior that can lead to injury might also help, they say.

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