What is it about?

Economic insecurity is an emerging topic that is increasingly relevant to the labour markets of developed economies. This paper uses data from the British Household Panel Survey to assess the causal effect of various aspects of economic insecurity on mental health in the UK. The results support the idea that economic insecurity is an emerging socioeconomic determinant of mental health, although the size of the effect varies across measures of insecurity. In particular, perceived future risks are more damaging to mental health than realised volatility, insecurity is more damaging for men, and the negative effect of insecurity is constant throughout the income distribution. Importantly, these changes in mental health are experienced without future unemployment necessarily occurring.

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Why is it important?

Even before the pandemic there was ample evidence that both mental health challenges and economic insecurity were on the rise. However, in the light of the economic upheavals caused by government response to the pandemic, the likelihood that economic insecurity will substantially increase into the medium term suggests that the negative effects of insecurity will have long lasting negative effects on mental health.

Perspectives

As discussed above, in the time of huge economic insecurity caused by COVID, mental health challenges will be a key one for public health officials for the foreseeable future.

Professor Keith A Bender
University of Aberdeen

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This page is a summary of: Economic insecurity: A socioeconomic determinant of mental health, SSM - Population Health, December 2018, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2018.09.006.
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