People who lose their jobs risk an early death, and men are particularly vulnerable, according to a new study by researchers at McGill, Stony Brook and Columbia Universities. Unemployment increased the risk of premature death by 78 percent for men and 37 percent for women, according to the study, which examined records covering 20 million people in 15 countries over the last four decades.
Men under age 50 were at greater risk than those closer to retirement. “We suspect that even today, not having a job is more stressful for men than for women,” said McGill sociology professor Eran Shor in a press release. “When a man loses his job, it still often means that the family will become poorer and suffer in various ways, which in turn can have a huge impact on a man’s health by leading to increased smoking, drinking or eating and by reducing the availability of…health care services.”
Previous research on unemployment did not control for pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or heart problems, or behaviors such as smoking, drinking or drug use. The new study, which appears in the March issue of Social Science & Medicine, accounts for those factors. “We found that preexisting health conditions had no effect, suggesting that the unemployment-mortality relationship is quite likely a causal one,” Shor stated. The best way to beat the odds: Take care of yourself if you get laid off. Exercise, don’t smoke, eat right and don’t drink to excess.