Unemployment and Gender

In general, unemployment is worse for the wellbeing of a woman than for the wellbeing of a man

  •  Professor Peter  SingerProfessor Peter Singer
    No
    I am not aware of any evidence to support this statement.

  •  Professor Wenceslao  UnanueProfessor Wenceslao Unanue
    Yes
    A leading Meta-analysis in the field examining the impact of unemployment on worker well-being across 104 empirical studies and 437 effect sizes has highlighted that unemployed individuals had lower psychological and physical well-being than employed ones (McKee-Ryan, Song, Wanberg, & Kinicki, 2005). Importantly, McKee-Ryan and colleagues hypothesized that gender moderates the impact of unemployment on well-being, due ?women rely on different types of coping behaviors (e.g., may use more symptom-focused coping) than men? and ?the possibility that women experience job loss as a less serious blow to their central identity than men? (p. 59). However, the Meta-analysis revealed that unemployed men had slightly higher levels of mental health as well as higher life satisfaction than unemployed women. The authors noticed that this finding goes against ?traditional wisdom that suggests that unemployment is more psychologically damaging to men than women? (p. 69). However, they elaborated interesting explanations to support their results. First, gender differences may reflect more depression and lower mental health reported by women compared to than men. Second, the changing role of women in the workplace may play at work. However, the results need to be taken with caution, because more research is needed in the field. McKee-Ryan, F., Song, Z., Wanberg, C. R., & Kinicki, A. J. (2005). Psychological and physical well-being during unemployment: a meta-analytic study. Journal of applied psychology, 90(1), 53.

  •  Professor Alois  StutzerProfessor Alois Stutzer
    No
    Traditionally, there is a stronger social norm to work in paid employment for men than for women.

  •  Doctor Anna  AlexandrovaDoctor Anna Alexandrova
    No
    There are several effects at work in this complex issue. First, women typically do lower paid work and so they lose less than men by being unemployed. Second, gender norms penalise unemployment differently for men and for women (likely making unemployment harder for men). Third, women are more likely to have strong care responsibilities, hence being more vulnerable when unemployed. Finally, definitions of unemployment are themselves gendered in that they do not count a great deal of work that women typically do (care, home, emotional, etc) as employment. So if you believe that justice and respect are constituents of wellbeing, then, even if you have data on whether women are more or less satisfied when unemployed compared to men, this would not fully answer the question of the survey. Being officially employed or unemployed, while at the same time doing work that does not get counted as work, is an extra cost for women's wellbeing. I am afraid this question has no single answer (I had to choose yes or no, but 'neither' would have been better).

  •  Doctor Jan-Emmanuel   De NeveDoctor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve
    No
    The data on wellbeing and unemployment split by gender is clear: men seem even more impacted.

  •  Doctor Daniel  BenjaminDoctor Daniel Benjamin
    No
    I am very uncertain about the answer to this question. I would guess, however, that for single men and women, unemployment is equally bad, holding constant the individuals' characteristics. For married men and women, in the majority of households still today (although less so than in the past), the husband on average earns more than the wife, so that the family's well-being is hurt more by the husband being unemployed. I suspect that there is much variation across households, though, and often the reverse would be true.

  •  Professor Dan  HaybronProfessor Dan Haybron
    No
    I don't know the data on this question and expect others here can speak to that, but it seems to me that it's a mixed bag in most societies, and not obvious who does worse. My suspicion is that the direct effects of being unemployed are probably worse for men on average, because paid work tends to be a larger part of men's identities and sense of self-worth. On the other hand, women probably suffer more from having an unemployed partner. And women often are burdened with greater responsibility for dependents, increasing the strain of unemployment on them. (Though of course this varies across communities and times.) Then again, it seems that men are more likely to respond badly to economic adversity, giving up on their families, drinking, etc. and resulting in failed lives. This is not an enviable result, even if self-inflicted. Women seem less prone to this sort of downward spiral, and more likely to sustain decent family relationships, so that even if their burdens are greater, their lives may have greater rewards and ultimately go better for them. (One possibility is that they end up higher in sense of meaning and relationships, yet lower in life satisfaction or happiness.)

  •  Professor Richard  EasterlinProfessor Richard Easterlin
    No
    In the work-family nexus, men are more oriented to work.

  •  Professor Mariano  RojasProfessor Mariano Rojas
    No
    The well-being cost of unemployment may be decomposed into pecuniary and non-pecuniary costs. How a person -male or female- suffers these costs does depend on family arrangements and cultural factors. For example, the pecuniary cost of unemployment (decline in income due to unemployment) may affect males and females similarly if household arrangements are communitarian (in this case labor income from all breadwinners is pulled up into a household income which is used by the family without any consideration of who the breadwinners are). Furthermore, the non-pecuniary costs from unemployment do also depend on what is culturally expected from males and females (single or married). Thus, there is no clear reason for female's well-being to be more sensitive to unemployment than male's well-being; the specific impact does depend on contextual and institutional factors.

  •  Professor Nick  PowdthaveeProfessor Nick Powdthavee
    No
    For those people with joblessness and looking for one, it has been shown very clearly across time and countries that unemployment is much more detrimental for men than for women. This applies for both measures of evaluative and affective wellbeing.

  •  Professor Ada  Ferrer-i-CarbonnellProfessor Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonnell
    No
    The existing evidence seems to show that the effect of unemployment on wellbeing depends on gender in an ambiguous way. While some found that unemployment hurt woman less, others find the opposite. This contradictory result might be driven by age as well as education level differences across respondents: we expect the correlation between unemployment and wellbeing to depend not only on social norms, but also on expectations. Woman?s expectations might be higher for younger and more educated woman and depend on the existing norms in the country.

  •  Professor Martin  BinderProfessor Martin Binder
    No
    It seems the opposite is true and that men on average suffer more from unemployment. Maybe social norms and traditional gender roles could make it easier for women to adapt to the role of being unemployed.

  •  Professor Heinz  WelschProfessor Heinz Welsch
    No
    I think that unemployment is less detrimental to wellbeing of women, in general. Of course, it depends on the family configuration (couple/single) and on who is the main breadwinner. Controlling for family status and income, I think that women are on average less psychologically dependent on a job as a source of meaning and social inclusion.

  •  Professor Leonardo  BechettiProfessor Leonardo Bechetti
    No
    If the cultural background is still that of traditional families women still find less disappointing than men to dedicate their life only to children provided that there is a partner in the household with a wage adequate to maintain good living standards. This even though I believe that women with childre and a job are in general more satisfied with life than those only with children

  •  Professor John  HelliwellProfessor John Helliwell
    No
    I checked the simple correlations between individual-level life evaluations and unemployment separately for men and women in several large multi-year cross-sectional international surveys (and some national), and in all cases the negative correlations were higher for men than women, by amounts raging from 20% in the more global surveys to over half for the ESS.

  •  Doctor Esteban  CalvoDoctor Esteban Calvo
    No
    In many countries the breadwinner and caregiver divide is still very much in place. Hence, I'd expect that the experience of being unemployed is tougher in men than women. Indirect effects of higher unemployment rates may be equally detrimental across genders.

  •  Professor Bruno  FreyProfessor Bruno Frey
    No
    Women have more suitable alternatives in the family than men.

  •  Professor Arie  KapteynProfessor Arie Kapteyn
    No
    It may be true, but I am not aware of evidence to that effect

  •  Professor Homa  ZarghameeProfessor Homa Zarghamee
    No
    The evidence suggests the contrary, on average. A paper exploring this is van der Meer (2014).

  •  Professor Ruut  VeenhovenProfessor Ruut Veenhoven
    No
    Women still have more options in life than work and are consequently less vulnerable when one option fails





Researchers have found jobs that are worse for wellbeing than unemployment

  •  Professor Peter  SingerProfessor Peter Singer
    Yes
    No comment

  •  Professor Wenceslao  UnanueProfessor Wenceslao Unanue
    Yes
    Recently, a Newspaper article in The Independent, and written by Professor Peter Kinderman (President, British Psychological Society); Martin Pollecoff (Chair, UK Council for Psychotherapy); Andrew Reeves (Chair, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) called Governments ?to rethink the Jobcentre?s role from not only increasing employment, but also ensuring the quality of that employment, given that bad jobs can be more damaging to mental health than unemployment?. Indeed, Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2000) has consistently shown that people have 3 basic psychological needs: autonomy, competence and relatedness. Jobs that satisfies these 3 needs, are jobs that help people to flourish, as well as to increases individuals? subjective well-being. However, jobs that thwarts these 3 needs (i.e. bad jobs), are jobs that lead people to ill-being, to unhappiness, and to poor mental health (Unanue, Gomez, Cortez, Oyanedel, & Mendiburo-Seguel, 2017). http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/a-bad-job-is-worse-for-your-mental-health-than-unemployment-a7600411.html Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The" what" and" why" of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological inquiry, 11(4), 227-268. Unanue, W., Gomez, M. E., Cortez, D., Oyanedel, J. C., & Mendiburo-Seguel, A. (2017). Revisiting the Link between Job Satisfaction and Life Satisfaction: The Role of Basic Psychological Needs. Frontiers in Psychology, 8.

  •  Professor Alois  StutzerProfessor Alois Stutzer
    No
    I am not aware that anybody has asked this research question. A theory would be necessary that predicts that people take up or end up in jobs that are worse than being unemployed.

  •  Doctor Anna  AlexandrovaDoctor Anna Alexandrova
    Yes
    Again I would have preferred a third option in addition to 'yes' and 'no'. But here's one consideration in favour of 'yes'. Exploitative and insulting work is incompatible with well-being properly understood even if people 'choose' to undertake it.

  •  Doctor Jan-Emmanuel   De NeveDoctor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve
    No
    Controlling for job type, being unemployed is worse for wellbeing.

  •  Doctor Daniel  BenjaminDoctor Daniel Benjamin
    Yes
    For example, in some countries, parents force children into jobs even though the child would have higher wellbeing (both in terms of happiness and lifetime utility) by being in school.

  •  Professor Dan  HaybronProfessor Dan Haybron
    No
    Again I don't know much data on this, though even being a lawyer probably beats unemployment. However, sex workers (at least in Calcutta) have been found to report very low life satisfaction--lower than is normally found in the unemployed. So that's one job that seems to be worse than unemployment normally is. However, even that could well be better for wellbeing than the type of unemployment those individuals would otherwise face, which seems like the relevant comparison. For instance, Calcutta homeless report even lower life satisfaction than sex workers, whose best alternative might well be a particularly grim form of homelessness. Of course, a given individual might be better off collecting unemployment benefits than being yelled at by a sociopathic boss. But I don't know of any evidence of a general type of job that tends to be worse than unemployment. Perhaps there are examples, for instance in high-unemployment areas with generous unemployment benefits, where the sting of unemployment is lessened.

  •  Professor Richard  EasterlinProfessor Richard Easterlin
    No
    Maybe, but I haven't seen the research.

  •  Professor Mariano  RojasProfessor Mariano Rojas
    Yes
    In general, unemployment reduces people's well-being, but its specific impact depends on mnay contextual factors (family arrangements, access to social benefits, prevailing welfare system, local rate of unemployment, attributed reasons for being unemployed, alternative ways of using free time, and so on). Under some contextual arrangements it would be possible for the impact of unemployment to be negligible. It is in these cases where some occupations with particular attributed that threaten people's well-being may imply lower well-being than being unemployed,

  •  Professor Nick  PowdthaveeProfessor Nick Powdthavee
    No
    To the best of my knowledge, I have never found any study documenting evidence of a job that is worse than being unemployed.

  •  Professor Ada  Ferrer-i-CarbonnellProfessor Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonnell
    No
    The literature shows that type of occupation does indeed correlate with happiness, with some jobs being much worse than others. Although it is hard to compare the coefficients from unemployment with those from type of occupation, I would argue that having a job remains very important for wellbeing, even if the job is of bad quality. In addition, unemployment has long lasting effects on wellbeing to the extent that people do not completely adapt to it.

  •  Professor Martin  BinderProfessor Martin Binder
    No
    Not to my knowledge. Maybe there is a (real) type of job that is so horrible that people would prefer being unemployed to doing that job but we know of the many positive effects that being in work has on people's well-being (finding meaning, social contacts, a structure in one's day etc.) and this seems to even generalize to situations where the unemployed are asked to participate in workfare programs. Such research shows how the notion of 'voluntary unemployment' must strike people (such as the many unemployed in some European countries) as quite a bit of mockery.

  •  Professor Heinz  WelschProfessor Heinz Welsch
    Yes
    That sounds plausible, though I am personally unaware of such evidence. I would be grateful for hints to such research.

  •  Professor Leonardo  BechettiProfessor Leonardo Bechetti
    No
    This is hard to me to believe unless it is slavery or really bad jobs. In general being active in society produces some wellbeing even when jobs do not allow to achieve high living standards.

  •  Professor John  HelliwellProfessor John Helliwell
    Yes
    This response based purely on presumption, as there are so many different jobs, including some done under compulsion, that it is easy to imagine jobs worse than being either employed elsewhere or out of the labour market by a margin bigger that the average unemployment effect, which usually ranges from 0.5 to 1.0 on a ten-point life evaluation scale.

  •  Doctor Esteban  CalvoDoctor Esteban Calvo
    Yes
    Voluntary unemployment is preferable than a terribly bad job.

  •  Professor Bruno  FreyProfessor Bruno Frey
    Yes
    It is always possible to find such unpleasant jobs. That is not surprising.

  •  Professor Arie  KapteynProfessor Arie Kapteyn
    No
    I am not aware of that; it is easy to believe that such jobs would exist in some circumstances

  •  Professor Homa  ZarghameeProfessor Homa Zarghamee
    No
    Not that I know of.

  •  Professor Ruut  VeenhovenProfessor Ruut Veenhoven
    Yes
    In the World Database of Happiness are a few cases in particular countries of slightly lower happiness in some jobs (e.g. sales worker) than among the unemployed. Yet these are exceptions, as a rule happiness is lowest among the (involuntary) unemployed