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Unemployment and psychological distress among young adults in the Nordic countries: A review of the literature

Authors

  • Anne Reneflot,

    Corresponding author
    1. Nordic School of Public Health, Gothenburg, Sweden
    2. Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway
    • Anne Reneflot, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, PO Box 4404 Nydalen, 0403 Oslo, Norway

      E-mail: anrf@fhi.no

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  • Miriam Evensen

    1. Nordic School of Public Health, Gothenburg, Sweden
    2. Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway
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Abstract

This article reviews Nordic research, published from 1995 and onwards, on the relationship between unemployment and mental health among young adults. Cross-sectional, longitudinal and time-series studies are included. Cross-sectional studies show that the unemployed experience more mental health problems than the non-unemployed. Leaving unemployment is associated with increased well-being. Economic problems, feelings of shame and poor social support increase the likelihood of psychological distress. The longitudinal studies show that unemployment increases the risk of psychological distress and attempted suicide, after initial mental health status and confounding factors are accounted for. The relationship remains significant when time-invariant characteristics of the individuals are controlled for. The time-series studies found no relationship between unemployment and suicide, but levels of psychological distress were found to vary with changes in the labour market. This relationship remained significant after excluding the non-employed, indicating that unemployment trends have effects beyond those directly associated with unemployment.

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