Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why quality is as important as quantity in the jobs market

Politicians and economists spend a lot of time thinking about levels of unemployment and about how to get unemployed people back into the workplace but much less about the quality of jobs on offer. However, a new study led by Peter Butterworth from the Australian National University in Canberra has found that having a badly-paid, poorly-supported and short-term job can be worse for people's mental health than not having a job at all. The researchers surveyed 7,000 people of working age who were asked about their employment status and mental health every year for seven years. Overall being unemployed was worse for people's mental health, however, once factors such as educational attainment and marital status were taken into account the mental health of those who were jobless was comparable to, if not better than, that of people in poor-quality jobs. Those people who were in the poorest quality jobs experienced the sharpest decline in mental health over time. Getting a high-quality job after being unemployed improved mental health by an average of three points on the scale used by the researchers but getting a poor-quality job actually decreased mental health by 5.6 points.

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