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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

Low paid or stressful job – worse for chronic stress than unemployment

30 August 2017

Professor Tarani Chandola is the lead author of a new study by The University of Manchester which has found that people employed in low-paying or highly stressful jobs may not actually enjoy better health than those who remain unemployed.

The study is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. It observed over 1000 participants aged 35-75 who were unemployed during 2009-2010, following up with them during the next few years about their self-reported health and their levels of chronic stress as indicated by their hormones and other biomarkers related to stress.

Professor Chandola states: “The physiological stress levels of people who are facing the stressors and demands of poor quality work often translates into poorer physical and mental health as they get older. Many leave their work well before standard retirement age because of a combination of stress at work and its impact on their health.”

Indeed, the study found a clear pattern of higher levels of chronic stress for adults who moved into poor quality/stressful/low paid work. This was higher than the adults who remained unemployed. However, adults who found a good quality job had the lowest levels of biomarkers.

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