Loneliness increases risk of future unemployment: study

WASHINGTON: According to new research, loneliness appears to lead to a higher risk of future unemployment. People who say they “feel lonely a lot” are much more likely to lose their job later.

The research results were published in the journal “BMC Public Health”, a team led by researchers from the University of Exeter. Previous research has established that unemployment can cause loneliness, however, the new study is the first to directly explore whether the opposite also applies to the working-age population. Their analysis also confirmed previous findings that the reverse is true – unemployed people were more likely to experience loneliness later.

Lead author Nia Morrish, from the University of Exeter, said: “Given the lingering and potentially scarring effects of loneliness and unemployment on health and the economy, preventing both experiences is essential. A Decreased loneliness may alleviate unemployment and employment may reduce loneliness, which may, in turn, be positively related to other factors, including health and quality of life.”

“Thus, particular attention should be paid to loneliness with additional support from employers and government to improve health and well-being. Our research was largely conducted before the pandemic, however, we suspect that this issue may be even more urgent, with more people working from home and potentially isolated due to covid anxieties.”

The research largely analyzed pre-pandemic data from more than 15,000 people as part of the Understanding Society’s Longitudinal Household Study. The team analyzed participants’ responses from 2017 to 2019 and then from 2018 to 2020, controlling for factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, education, marital status, family composition, household, the number of children in the household and the region.

Lead author Professor Antonieta Medina-Lara said: “Loneliness is an incredibly important societal problem, which is often viewed solely in terms of its impact on mental health and well-being.”

“Our findings indicate that there may also be wider implications, which could have negative impacts on individuals and the economy. We need to explore this further, and it could lay the groundwork for employers or policy makers policies are tackling loneliness in an effort to keep more people working.”

The paper’s co-author, Dr Ruben Mujica-Mota, associate professor of health economics at the University of Leeds Medical School, said: “While previous research has shown unemployment can cause loneliness, ours is the first study to identify working single people of all ages are at greater risk of becoming unemployed.”

“Our findings show that these two issues can interact and create a self-fulfilling negative cycle. There is a need to better recognize the broader societal impacts of loneliness in the working-age population.”

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