Rapid Communication

Regional variation in mental health risks of unemployment in the United States

[Speaker] Jouhki, Virpi:1
[Co-author] Törnroos, Maria:2, Jokela, Markus:1
1:Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki (Finland), 2:Department of Management and Organisation, Hanken School of Economics (Finland)

The health implications of unemployment may vary by social context. This study examined whether self-reported health of unemployed people in the United States vary according to social and economic characteristics of the states. We used 2000-2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data with 2,521,192 participants. The association between unemployment and self-reported health in 49 states was examined with multilevel methods. To determine how the association is modified by socioeconomic characteristics of the states, cross-level interactions were added to the model. The mental health risks associated with unemployment varied by state (OR=1.31 in California to OR=2.09 in Vermont). This variation was partly explained by the states-level Gini coefficient, unemployment rate, social tolerance, social capital as well as level of urbanicity and political conservatism. The results support the assumption that individuals' health risks are better understood in relation to their macro socioeconomic context.
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