The link between unemployment and ill health is well established. Scientific knowledge goes deeper, suggesting that unemployment is worse for health for lower socio-economic groups, and less deleterious for health for those who have larger social networks. Unsurprisingly, long-term unemployment sees effects on ill health compounded: people experience negative pressures on their physical and mental health from a variety of sources for longer. Indeed, a recently published review of the scientific literature found that “The long-term unemployed carry a markedly higher burden of disease, particularly mental illness, than employed persons and those who are unemployed only for a short time. The burden of disease increases with the duration of unemployment.

Long-term unemployment is not only a tragedy for the individuals concerned but also threatens economies: it reduces tax receipts, increases expenditure on social protection and health, and has negative effects on the skills and knowledge of the workforce – thereby reducing the potential for future economic growth.

This EuroHealthNet policy briefing examines a recent initiative at the European Union level, which has been agreed upon but not yet responded to by national authorities and others responsible for its implementation: The European Council’s Recommendation on the integration of the long-term unemployed to the labour market. The briefing describes the main modalities by which the initiative aims to return the long-term unemployed back to the labour market, and certain avoidable bad practices that could exacerbate the difficulties faced by people experiencing long-term unemployment.

Read our policy briefing published here.

Herbig et al. (2013) – Health in the long-term unemployed. Dtsch Arztebl Int. See here 

See for instance: 1) Wanberg CR: The individual experience of unemployment. Annu Rev Psychol 2012, 63:369–396. 10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100500PubMedView Article. 2) Jin RL, Shah CP, Svoboda TJ: The impact of unemployment on health: a review of the evidence (Reprinted from Canadian Medical Association Journal, vol 153, pg 529–40, 1995). J Public Health Pol 1997,18(3):275–301. 10.2307/3343311View Article.

Norström et al. (2014) – How does unemployment affect self-assessed health? A systematic review focusing on subgroup effects. BMC Public Health. Available here