It's Depressing

By Emanoil, Pamela | Human Ecology, Winter 2000 | Go to article overview

It's Depressing


Emanoil, Pamela, Human Ecology


Losing a job and being out of work is downright depressing. So found Cornell researchers when they studied the effects of unemployment on mental health. Now they are looking at the effects of several social support services on the mental and overall well-being of the unemployed.

What happens to the mental and overall health states of people when they lose their jobs? can unemployment compensation or welfare benefits soften the blow? These questions are core concerns for Eunice Rodriguez, assistant professor of program evaluation and planning in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management.

"I am interested in how different types of social support can help people through periods of economic transition and economic insecurity," says Rodriguez. "How do these systems of support help people stay healthy?"

In today's economy, it's easy to dismiss unemployment as a problem of the past. Employment figures in the United States are strong. Working people numbered 134.1 million as of November 1999, according to reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor. The unemployment rate for the same month and year held steady at just 4.1 percent.

But despite the favorable figures, many people are still out of work. Rodriguez names corporate mergers, downsizing, workplace restructuring, and international competition for low-wage unskilled labor as factors that have made unemployment a reality for 5.7 million people in the United States. In New York State, more than 461,000 people were jobless as of October 1999.

Whereas most discussions, policies, and programs relating to unemployment emphasize its economic consequences, Rodriguez has turned her attention to health, specifically mental health outcomes. She has found through her research that unemployment instability--that is, fearing unemployment or passing in and out of the workforce--has a profound impact on well-being.

"We know there's a relationship between unemployment and health, but we're still investigating how that relationship came about," Rodriguez says.

The long-term application of her research may be new policies and interventions to abate the ill effects of unemployment.

In one study published in the International Journal of Health Services, Rodriguez and colleagues Kathryn Lasch and June P. Mead looked at which form of social support--unemployment compensation or welfare benefits--is best for alleviating the negative mental health consequences during periods of unemployment. The researchers measured negative mental health consequences as levels of depression.

Unemployment compensation, as defined by the researchers, is an entitlement benefit offered only to those who have worked before. The benefit usually lasts no more than 26 weeks and is, quite simply, a shield against poverty. Welfare, on the other hand, includes means-tested programs, and recipients often receive the benefits for a long period.

Using the National Survey of Family and Households, Rodriguez and her collaborators found that the jobless who received unemployment compensation did not report that they were any more depressed than the employed. But unemployed people who didn't receive unemployment compensation or who received only welfare were more likely than employed people to say that they were depressed, even after the researchers controlled for total household income and length of unemployment.

According to the researchers, the findings suggest that unemployment compensation is a beneficial resource for the unemployed. The support can help fend off bouts of depression. Welfare benefits, however, don't seem to provide sufficient relief for the jobless because either the monies provided by the programs are not enough, or the social stigma of "being on the dole" could add stress, which might outweigh the benefits of welfare.

"Also, people who qualify for those programs are the most vulnerable in society," Rodriguez says. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

It's Depressing
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.