By contrast, those who have a history of falling out of the labor market altogether will come to feel greater anxiety when the jobs they finally find are repeatedly pulled out from under them, the authors theorized. Essentially, they become increasingly sensitive to the job loss experience, because they do not feel entirely confident that they will be able to overcome serial bouts of unemployment.
Neither gender nor age appeared to affect the findings. However, the researchers noted that those who had pulled in relatively big bucks when employed tended to experience significantly more distress during periods of time when they were unable to replace their lost income than did those whose prior take-home pay was relatively small.
Although the authors cautioned that their findings are not necessarily applicable outside the British context, they suggested that public policy makers should generally take note of how the loss of a job and the subsequent failure to find work might adversely affect mental health.
"Government schemes aimed at increasing the number of people in work should be aware of the psychological harm to those who fail to find work," Booker advised. "Focus should also be on providing good quality long-term jobs rather than temporary or insecure employment."
Michael McKee, a psychologist and stress expert at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, agreed that attention needs to paid to the body blow that job loss can inflict on any individual's sense of identity and self-respect.
"If you keep trying to find a job and don't," he noted, "or if you find a job and then lose it, and that pattern repeats and repeats, you not only lose identity, you lose income, the structure to your day, your sense of achievement, your friends from work, your other friends because you are embarrassed to be aroun
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