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Public Health. 2000 Jan;114(1):25-9.

Health hazards of unemployment--only a boom phenomenon? A study of young men and women during times of prosperity and times of recession.

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Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Sweden.



It has been suggested that high unemployment rates in society may be less harmful to the health of people than low unemployment rates. Therefore, a study was carried out to compare, among young men and women, the relationship between health and long-term unemployment during periods of rapid economic growth 'boom' and economic recession.


Two study groups were chosen at age 21 y (5 y after compulsory schooling ended) from an industrial town in northern Sweden. The first group (number 1083) was chosen and surveyed in 1986 (under 'boom' conditions); the second (number 898) was chosen in 1994 (under economic recession conditions). The non-response rate was 2% for the boom group and 10% for the recession group. The main outcome measurements examined were somatic and psychological symptoms.


Health criteria for general health among long-term unemployed young men and women did not differ between the group surveyed in boom conditions and the group surveyed in recession conditions. The only exception was for psychological symptoms, which scored lower among the men in the recession group. Individual unemployment had a high explanatory power for poor health, in particular, psychological ill health.


When comparing periods of boom and recession there was no difference in somatic and psychological symptoms for those who were long-term unemployed. Thus, the trade cycle appeared to have had no impact on their health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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