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Monday, February 15, 2010

Could a Layoff make a healthy person sick?

Losing your job can make you feel lousy. Whether you're fired or laid-off, joining the ranks of the unemployed is not exactly a feel-good event. You don't need a study to tell you that.

But what impact does losing a job have on your health? Could a layoff send a perfectly healthy person into a downward spiral of sickness? It's possible, says Kate Strully, a sociologist at State University of New York in Albany. In her new study published in the journal Demography, Strully analyzed a variety of job loss situations — including being fired or laid off or losing a job after the entire company shut down — and found that job loss may indeed trigger serious physical and physiological illness.

Strully used a nationally representative and continually updated data set known as the U.S. Panel of Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), which surveys people around the country each year on their employment status and their self-reports of health, among other things. Strully used data from 1999, 2001 and 2003 to track people's job status and the impact on each person's health 18 months later. Since previous studies on employment and health suffered from a chicken-or-egg conundrum — researchers could never be sure whether the stresses and strains of unemployment led to poorer health, or whether people's poor health led to missed work days and lower productivity, which contributed to job loss — Strully focused on people who reported having lost their job due to factors out of their control, such as the entire company shutting its doors. (See the worst business deals of 2008.)

She found that among people unemployed under these circumstances and who did not report any health problems prior to losing their job, 80% were diagnosed with a new health problem — ranging from hypertension and heart disease to diabetes — 18 months later. (Not surprisingly, those who started out with one or more of the conditions asked about on the survey were 54% more likely to lose their job within a year and half, for any reason, than those who did not report any health problems.) The most commonly reported conditions among this group were high blood pressure, arthritis and other cardiovascular-related problems. "Job loss leads to a lot of physiological changes," says Strully, who conducted her study as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar. "That's definitely what this suggests."

More intriguing was the long-term effect job loss appeared to have. Even if some of these people found new jobs soon after losing their first one, they were more likely to retain the legacy of poor health from having once been unemployed. "People who lost their job and were re-employed within a year and half also reported increased onset of new health problems," she says. "They shouldn't have had the most severe experiences of unemployment and income loss, and still we see them having new health issues."

Read complete story at: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1896986,00.html#ixzz0fb0s5Mj5


  1. I do not know what impact lay off will make on an employee. In India layoff is given to those who are covered under Industrial dispute act and hence can not be fired. They can be fired only after giving adequate compensation. Hence, in India employee may not worry much when given lay off. They also get some alternate employment without much problem. The real problem is faced by those who are not covered by law and can be terminated or ask to resign without any real valid reason. Such employees suffer unemployment and there can not be a bigger punishment than remaining unemployed at an age when you are supposed to be earning. I have such employee not only suffer mental stress and other such related problem but probably their immune system also becomes weak. I strongly feel that firing a competent employee without any valid reason is a crime against humanity. I have seen cases where star performer have been asked to go because such employee make incompetent CEO feel insecure.

  2. I have to admit that i had developed a lot of mental depressive stress and health changes after i lost my job last year in Dubai. Being laid off today or in the coming months or years will unfortunately become common, but in my case (it has been the case of many people as well), the owner of the company kept on giving statistical hopes for 3 months without pay and then one fine day he ran away from the country. Loss of weight, depression, continuous mental stress about what's going to happen when the savings run out, family responsibilities, etc. make it worse. But then of course its a fight with oneself for oneself. Depends on how strong the person is. :-)

  3. I agree with Renu.My husband was fired and he was star perfofmer.His director probably fell insecure so hi get ride of him.Hi sufffer mental stess and became depress.Yes, it isCRIME AGAINST HUMANITY>ITS supostu be law against ,,people" like Frits and AAM .

  4. In a state of unemployment Victim agonizes, gets irritated on patty issues. To add something to the appropriately said comments above Not only layoff/fired stresses the victim but also his family members. This was clearly evident at the time when i was not working a year ago and searching for a suitable option. Before laying off/firing someone employer needs to explore other options like reduced pay, alternate job etc...

  5. I've seen a fair share of distress, anger and desperation in job loss situations.
    In a society that measures catastrophes by the cost in dollars, any reason for a loss of income is a catastrophe, and it is treated mostly this way.
    There is a very dangerous situation of projecting a future of darkness, hopelessness as time passes, and the longer the person stays unemployed chances are self care reduces. Many people say, "there is no light at the end of the tunnel..." .

    The movie Up in the Air, gives us a very interesting perspective of the "firing squad" and of course keep a very brief view of the fired target.

    I agree with Renu (post above), who categorised it as a "crime". There must be some social responsibility in the process. As long as we measure worthiness in dollars, there will be suffering every time income is reduced or cut.

    Beto Boton, in Brazil

  6. It was at the beginning of the Recession. I was in Kiev (Ukraine) that time and we have done the research
    about customers behavior.

    We saw sad figures(as for business): people saved money for
    every purchase! But one field has shown increasing results - it was fitness!
    Smart managers understood, they have to save their health in any case (that time
    noone knew how long this Recession period will continue)

    I agree about social responsibility! But a person also has to be responsible for his
    health! Spend more time with the family, go sport, try to keep positive mood and pray!

    And next method i often use for difficult situations: find a person, who has gotten
    into large troubles, than you did and try to help.
    This works 100%

    Ellen Nichols


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