The impacts of job loss and job recovery on self-rated health: testing the mediating role of financial strain and income

Tim Huijts*, Aaron Reeves, Martin McKee, David Stuckler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Is regaining a job sufficient to reverse the harmful impacts on health of job loss during the Great Recession? We tested whether unemployed persons who found work within 1 year of job loss experienced a full recovery of their health. Additionally, we tested the mediating role of financial strain and household income. Methods: Linear regression models were used to assess the effects of job loss and recovery on self-rated health using the longitudinal EU-SILC, covering individuals from 27 European countries. We constructed a baseline of employed persons (n = 70 611) in year 2007. We evaluated income and financial strain as potential mediating factors. Results: Job loss was associated with worse self-rated health in both men (beta = 0.12, 95% CI: 0.09-0.15) and women (beta = 0.13, 95% CI: 0.10-0.16). Financial strain explains about one-third of the association between job loss and health, but income did not mediate this relation. Women who regained employment within 1 year after job loss were found to be similarly healthy to those who did not lose jobs. In contrast, men whose employment recovered had an enduring health disadvantage compared with those who had not lost jobs (beta = 0.11, 95% CI: 0.05-0.16). Unemployment cash benefits mitigated financial strain but were too low to substantially reduce perceived financial strain among men. Conclusions: Men and women's health appears to suffer equally from job loss but differs in recovery. For men, employment recovery was insufficient to alleviate financial strain and associated health consequences, whereas in women regaining employment leads to health recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)801-806
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


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