Kristin Kalning writes:
Being unemployed is stressful – to the bank balance, to your self confidence, to your relationships. But a recent study, published by the American Psychological Association, reports that most jobless folk end up just as happy as they were before becoming unemployed.
Even though unemployment rates are sky-high around the world, people who’ve lost their jobs have more bounce-back than previously thought, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Isaac Galatzer-Levy. Though there’s concern that being out of work has enduring emotional repercussions, “this analysis suggests that people are able to cope with a job loss relatively well over time.”
For the study, researchers analyzed data on 774 Germans who’d become unemployed between 1984 and 2003. Participants were asked to rank their happiness on a scale of 0 to 10, in the years before their job loss, and in the years following.
The largest group – 69 percent – reported being quite happy before being out of work. And though that level dipped upon becoming unemployed, a year later, those same respondents were back at their pre-unemployed state of satisfaction.
Earlier studies of the same data seemed to show that people didn’t really rebound emotionally after losing their jobs, said Galatzer-Levy. This fresh look, he said, indicates that people don’t respond to being out of a job in a uniform way. “In fact, most people cope well with this event and report few long-term effects on their overall well-being.”
This resilience mirrors what psychologists have seen when people deal with other traumatic events, such as the death of a loved one or a terrorist attack, said the study’s co-author, Dr. George Bonanno, of Columbia University. “This is one of the first studies to show that this same pattern relates to unemployment.”
Regional data from the study also show that people worry more about local unemployment rates than national unemployment rates. Layoffs that hit closer to home, said Bonnano, feed into the fear that you could be next.
“This suggests that people are more stressed out when they fear losing their jobs than they are when they actually get laid off,” he said.
Gee. That’s a relief.