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June 27 , 2010

Unemployment, Social Vulnerability, and Health in Europe


It is not easy to summarize the studies that have dealt with the health effects of un­ employment on the unemployed. The main problem impeding a comparison of their results is the diversity of theoretical constructs associated with physical and especially mental health and, above all, an apparently inexhaustible variety of op­ erationalizations of these constructs. It is significant that the six conclusions drawn from the present state of unemployment research by the organizers of a re­ cent conference on the individual and social consequences of unemployment in­ cluded the following request: "In view of the relevant constructs, it seems to be most urgent to find or to develop operationalizations which can be agreed upon, in order to guarantee comparability of research results" (Kieselbach and Wacker 1985, p. XX; my translation). Nevertheless, the results of these studies allow the statement that a negative in­ fluence of job loss on psychological well-being can be regarded as a validated finding. The influence on physical health, however, must be assessed very careful­ ly and in a differentiated manner. The few investigations dealing with this ques­ tion arrive at different conclusions; moreover, possibly relieving effects of unem­ ployment on health come into sight.
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