Is Any Job Really Better Than No Job?

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By Olga Khazan

Any job is better than no job.

Or at least that’s the thinking when it comes to preserving physical and mental health after unemployment. Indeed, many studies have found that the long-term unemployed have at least twice the rate of depression and anxiety, as well as higher rates of heart attacks and strokes. One study on Pennsylvania men weathering the 1980s recession found that a year after they were laid off, the men’s risk of dying doubled. And as one review of the most recent recession put it, “nearly all individual-level studies indicated that job loss, financial strain, and housing issues were associated with declines in self-rated health during the Great Recession.”

“Employment is the essential element of social status,” said the public-health researcher M. Harvey Brenner in 2002, the year he authored a major study that showed that unemployment is associated with a greater risk of death.

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