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Soc Sci Res. 2018 May;72:146-169. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.01.007. Epub 2018 Mar 1.

The scarring effect of unemployment on psychological well-being across Europe.

Author information

1
Behavioural Science Centre, Stirling Management School, Stirling University, FK94LA, United Kingdom. Electronic address: victoria.mousteri@stir.ac.uk.
2
Behavioural Science Centre, Stirling Management School, Stirling University, FK94LA, United Kingdom. Electronic address: michaeldaly1@gmail.com.
3
Behavioural Science Centre, Stirling Management School, Stirling University, FK94LA, United Kingdom; UCD Geary Institute, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland. Electronic address: liamdelaney2011@gmail.com.

Abstract

Past unemployment may have a pervasive psychological impact that occurs across nations. We investigate the association between unemployment events across working life and subsequent psychological well-being across 14 European countries. Additionally, we consider the influence of between-country differences in labour market institutions and conditions on the cross-country well-being effects of unemployment. Data detailing life-long employment trajectories and contemporary life conditions are drawn from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. The well-being impact of unemployment is modeled using linear, multi-level specifications. Each six-month spell of past unemployment is found to predict reduced quality of life and life satisfaction after the age of 50, having adjusted for a broad range of individual and country-specific covariates. In contrast, the impact of past unemployment on depression is explained by individual demographic factors. We identify the first comparative long-term evidence that unemployment welfare scarring may be a broad, international phenomenon.

KEYWORDS:

Cross-country survey; Depression; Life satisfaction; Psychological scarring; Quality of life; Unemployment

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