Unemployment and psychosocial outcomes to age 30: A fixed-effects regression analysis
David M Fergusson; Lianne J Woodward
Objective: We aimed to examine the associations between exposure to unemployment and psychosocial outcomes over the period from 16 to 30 years, using data from a well-studied birth cohort. Methods: Data were collected over the course of the Christchurch Health and Development Study, a longitudinal study of a birth cohort of 1265 children, born in Christchurch in 1977, who have been studied to age 30. Assessments of unemployment and psychosocial outcomes (mental health, substance abuse/dependence, criminal offending, adverse life events and life satisfaction) were obtained at ages 18, 21, 25 and 30. Results: Prior to adjustment, an increasing duration of unemployment was associated with significant increases in the risk of all psychosocial outcomes. These associations were adjusted for confounding using conditional, fixed-effects regression techniques. The analyses showed significant (p < 0.05) or marginally significant (p < 0.10) associations between the duration of unemployment and major depression (p = 0.05), alcohol abuse/dependence (p = 0.043), illicit substance abuse/dependence (p = 0.017), property/violent offending (p < 0.001), arrests/convictions (p = 0.052), serious financial problems (p = 0.007) and life satisfaction (p = 0.092). To test for reverse causality, the fixed-effects regression models were extended to include lagged, time-dynamic variables representing the respondent's psychosocial burden prior to the experience of unemployment. The findings suggested that the association between unemployment and psychosocial outcomes was likely to involve a causal process in which unemployment led to increased risks of adverse psychosocial outcomes. Effect sizes were estimated using attributable risk; exposure to unemployment accounted for between 4.2 and 14.0% (median 10.8%) of the risk of experiencing the significant psychosocial outcomes. Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that exposure to unemployment had small but pervasive effects on psychosocial adjustment in adolescence and young adulthood.
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Rights Statement: This version in OUR Archive is the author's manuscript accepted for publication after peer-review. The published version is: Fergusson, D. M., McLeod, G. F., & Horwood, L. J. (2014). Unemployment and psychosocial outcomes to age 30: A fixed-effects regression analysis. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 48(8), 735-742. doi: 10.1177/0004867414525840
Research Type: Journal Article