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Employment and well-being

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2002 - Autumn


Being out of a job increases one’s chances of dying, according to a Yale scientist. “Employment is the essential element of social status and it establishes a person as a contributing member of society,” said M. Harvey Brenner, Ph.D., a visiting professor in the Global Health Division at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. “Employment also has important implications for self-esteem. When that is taken away, people become susceptible to depression, cardiovascular disease, AIDS and many other illnesses that increase mortality.”

Brenner’s study found that mortality rose when unemployment rose and declined when unemployment declined. Low levels of unemployment also led to an increased community sense of well-being. The results of the study, the largest of its kind on mortality patterns in Europe and the United States, were presented to members of the European Parliament in May. The European Union commissioned the study to give a human context to unemployment rates over the last 10 to 55 years in 16 countries.