Those affected by unemployment lose health-related quality of life equivalent to almost a full year every ten years, compared to those who are employed. This is shown by research at university an important explanation is that the unemployed suffer more from anxiety and depression than the employed. The study underlines what benefit to public health it actually means to reduce unemployment. Unfortunately, the health aspects are often overlooked when unemployment is discussed, researcher at the department of epidemiology and global health.
That unemployment makes people sicker is a long-known fact. There have been previous studies that show greater ill-health among the unemployed, with an increased incidence of, among other things, heart attacks, strokes and suicide. In previous studies, on the other hand, there has been a lack of answers as to how large a percentage deterioration in the quality of life that unemployment causes. Researchers at therefore conducted a study focusing on the health effects of unemployment based on self-estimates. The health effects were expressed in health-related quality of life, a measure often used in health economic research.
The results show that unemployment leads to a large deterioration, 9.6 percent, in health-related quality of life. The difference between unemployed and employed people’s estimates of the health problems anxiety and depression was particularly marked. 24 percent more among the unemployed than among the employed experienced problems with anxiety and depression.
The results can be interpreted as that the added value from having a job makes it worth sacrificing lifetime to get a better health-related quality of life. It gives further support to the conclusion that politicians attention and measures should be directed to a significantly greater extent towards health gains from reduced unemployment.
What is health-related quality of life
The results are based on a cross-sectional study in 2016 where 2,500 randomly selected individuals from the population were invited to answer a questionnaire sent to their home address. Among the respondents, the 113 people who had been unemployed for at least half a year in the last three years were compared with the 724 respondents who were employed. To measure health-related quality of life, a measure called dimensions was used, which is a validated measure based on five questions regarding different aspects of health. The answers to these questions were then translated into quality-related life years. The response rate was 39 percent.