Does unemployment cause long-term mortality? Selection and causation after the 1992–96 deep Swedish recession
2016 (English)In: European Journal of Public Health, ISSN 1101-1262, E-ISSN 1464-360XArticle in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Background: Mass unemployment in Europe is endemic, especially among the young. Does it cause mortality? Methods: We analyzed long-term effects of unemployment occurring during the deep Swedish recession 1992–96. Mortality from all and selected causes was examined in the 6-year period after the recession among those employed in 1990 (3.4 million). Direct health selection was analyzed as risk of unemployment by prior medical history based on all hospitalizations 1981–91. Unemployment effects on mortality were estimated with and without adjustment for prior social characteristics and for prior medical history. Results: A prior circulatory disease history did not predict unemployment; a history of alcohol-related disease or suicide attempts did, in men and women. Unemployment predicted excess male, but not female, mortality from circulatory disease, both ischemic heart disease and stroke, and from all causes combined, after full adjustment. Adjustment for prior social characteristics reduced estimates considerably; additional adjustment for prior medical history did not. Mortality from external and alcohol-related causes was raised in men and women experiencing unemployment, after adjustment for social characteristics and medical history. For the youngest birth cohorts fully adjusted alcohol mortality HRs were substantial (male HR = 4.44; female HR = 5.73). The effect of unemployment on mortality was not uniform across the population; men, those with a low education, low income, unmarried or in urban employment were more vulnerable. Conclusions: Direct selection by medical history explains a modest fraction of any increased mortality risk following unemployment. Mass unemployment imposes long-term mortality risk on a sizeable segment of the population.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-129298DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckw053OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-129298DiVA: diva2:921429