People speculated forever that worrying about a pending disaster was actually more dangerous to your health than the disaster itself. Perhaps you know that phrase by its more familiar wording: “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.
According to yet another one of those nifty scientific reports it has been found that worrying about losing your job can cost you your health, a new investigation of data from two long-term studies finds. The effect is worse than actually losing your job, the research suggests.
“Based on how participants rated their own physical and mental health, we found that people who were persistently concerned about losing their jobs reported significantly worse overall health in both studies and were more depressed in one of the studies than those who had actually lost and regained their jobs recently,” said Sarah Burgard, a sociologist at the University of Michigan.”
In fact, chronic job insecurity was a stronger predictor of poor health than either smoking or hypertension in one of the groups we studied,” Burgard said. One simple reason: the stress caused by insecurity. Other research has shown that stress can be deadly, leading to a range of poor health conditions that can shorten one’s life. Burgard and colleagues examined data from two nationally representative sample surveys of the U.S. population; each survey was based on two interviews with each of the study participants. One of the surveys was conducted between 1986 and 1989, the other between 1995 and 2005. The results were published in the journal Social Science & Medicine.
“Dramatic changes in the U.S. labor market have weakened bonds between employers and employees and fueled perceptions of job insecurity,” Burgard argues, citing other studies that support this contention. She admits, though, that the research into this claim could be more robust.”
Ongoing ambiguity about the future, inability to take action unless the feared event actually happens, and the lack of institutionalized supports associated with perceived insecurity are among them,” she said.