Job loss is associated with depressive symptoms in both the United States and Europe, but the effects of job loss are much stronger in American workers, a new study has found.
“In the US, the impact of job loss is significantly stronger for those with little or no wealth than for wealthier individuals. Also, the impact of job loss due to plant closure was stronger in the US than in Europe,” said lead author Carlos Riumallo-Herl, doctoral candidate at Harvard School of Public Health.
The recession in 2008 caused significant job losses in both Europe and the US, with particularly strong consequences for older workers.
Among people aged 50-64, unemployment rates rose from 3.1 percent to 7.3 percent in the USA, and from 5.4 percent to 6.15 percent in the EU-15 countries.
“Resultant income losses may have devastating consequences for the retirement plans of older workers, increase their risk of poverty in old age, and render them more vulnerable to mental illness,” researchers added.
Prior evidence has already suggested that job loss among older workers is associated with poorer health, increased substance abuse and increased depression.
In the new study, researchers used harmonised data on 38,356 individuals from the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) and the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) covering the years 2004-2010.
The results showed that overall job loss was associated with a 4.8 percent increase in depression scores in the US and a 3.4 percent increase in Europe.
However, when job loss due to plant closure was looked at separately, depressive symptom scores increased by 28.2 percent in the US as compared to 7.5 percent in Europe.
The findings are published online in the International Journal of Epidemiology (IJE). (ians)