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Unemployment and life satisfaction: A cross-cultural comparison

  • Duncan Gallie (a1) and Helen Russell (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 July 2009

The paper addresses the issue of the nature and determinants of variations between countries in the severity of the implications of unemployment for psychological well-being. It focuses on ten countries in the European Union over the period 1983 to 1994. It establishes that there are consistent differences between countries over time. It then examines a number of potential explanations, in particular relating to the level of unemployment, the social composition of unemployment, the strength of the work ethic in the society and the characteristics of welfare institutions. It concludes that such differences cannot be accounted for in terms of the level of unemployment or its composition in terms of age and sex. They are also unrelated to measures of employment commitment. Rather the severity of the impact of unemployment has to be understood in terms of the interaction between the characteristics of the welfare regime and the composition of the unemployed with respect to household position.

Le projet est d'analyser la nature et les déterminants des variations entre pays concernant la sévérité des implications du chômage sur le bien-etre psychologique. Les données portent sur dix pays de l'union europeenne entre 1983 et 1994. Des diff´erences, stables dans le temps, apparaissem bien entre pays. Les facteurs explicatifs possibles qui sont examines comprennent le niveau du chomage et la composition de la population frappee, la force de l'ethique du travail et les specificites nationales de l'Etat providence. Les deux premiers sont a exclure et le troisieme n'est pas decisif. En revanche la combinaison des dispositions du système de protection sociale et de la position du chômeur(se) dans l'unité ménage a un poids explicarif.

Die Untersuchung setzt sich zum Ziel, Beschaffenheit und Hauptfaktoren der Zänder spezifischen Abweichungen in puncto Folgen der Arbeitslosikgeit auf das psychologische Wohlbefinden zu analysieren. Die Zahlenwerte der Jahre 1983–1994 stammen aus zehn Landern der EG. Sie lassen die iiber die Jahre gleichbleibenden Unterschiede gut deutlich werden. AuBerdem wurden folgende Entscheidungskriterien in die Untersuchung eingeschlossenen: Stand der Arbeitslosigkeit, Zusammensetzung der betroffenen Bevölkerung, ethnischer Wert der Arbeit, nationale Besonderheiten des Wohlfahrtsstaates. Die ersten beiden Kriterien sind auszuschlieBen, und das dritte ist nicht entscheidend. Im Gegensatz dazu ist das Zusammenspiel von Sozialversicherung und Status der Arbeitslosen im Privathaushalt von groBem Gewicht für den Interpretationsansatz.

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M. Banks , C. Clegg , P. Jackson , N. Kemp , E. Stafford and T. Wall (1980), The Use of the General Health Questionnaire as an Indicator of Mental Health in Occupational Studies, Journal of Occupational Psychology, Vol. 53, 137194.

M. E. Ensminger & D. D. Celentano (1990), Gender Differences in the Effect of Unemployment on Psychological Distress, Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 30, No. 4, 469477.

H. Fawcett , & T.N. Papadopoulos (1997), Social Exclusion, Social Citizenship and De-Commodification: An Evaluation of the Adequacy of Support for the Unemployed in the EU, West European Politics., vol. 20, no 3.

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L. Harding & J. Sewel (1992), Psychological Health and Employment Status in an Island Community, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 65, 269275.

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P. Ullah (1990), The Association Between Income, Financial Strain and Psychological Well-being among Unemployed Youths, Journal of Occupational Psychology, Vol. 63, 317330.

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European Journal of Sociology / Archives Européennes de Sociologie
  • ISSN: 0003-9756
  • EISSN: 1474-0583
  • URL: /core/journals/european-journal-of-sociology-archives-europeennes-de-sociologie
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