Background: The association between exposure to unemployment and increased risk of mortality is well established. Yet migrants and their children often experience a number of stressors in the country of residence which could exacerbate the negative effects of job loss or unemployment. This study examined the extent to which region of origin and generational status modified associations between employment status and risk of all-cause mortality.
Methods: Using population-based registers, an open cohort study of 2,178,321 individuals aged 25-64 was followed from 1993-2008. Hazard ratios for mortality were calculated using Cox regression. Employment status and socio-demographic covariates were included as time-varying variables in all models.
Results: Relative to employed native-origin Swedes, excess risk of mortality was found among most groups of foreign-origin persons exposed to unemployment. The excess risk of mortality found among African women exposed to long-term unemployment (HR=3.26, 95% CI: 2.30-4.63), Finnish men exposed to short-and long-term unemployment (HR=2.74, 95% CI: 2.32-3.24 and HR=2.39, 95% CI: 2.12-2.69), and second generation Swedish men exposed to short-term unemployment (HR=2.34, 95% CI: 2.06-2.64) was significantly greater (p<0.05) than that found among their unemployed native-origin counterparts. Decreased risk of mortality was observed among the employed in nearly all foreign-origin groups.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the mortality health advantage often observed among foreign-origin groups is most evident among the employed, while the magnitude of excess risk for mortality in the foreign-origin exposed to unemployment varies by generational status and region of origin.