The effect of recurrent involuntary job loss on the depressive symptoms of older US workers.

TitleThe effect of recurrent involuntary job loss on the depressive symptoms of older US workers.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsGallo, WT, Bradley, EH, Teng, H-M, Kasl, SV
JournalInt Arch Occup Environ Health
Date Published2006 Nov
ISSN Number0340-0131
Call Numbernewpubs20101112_Gallo2.pdf
KeywordsAdaptation, Physiological, depression, Employment, Female, Humans, Life Change Events, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Middle Aged, Retirement, Stress, Psychological, United States

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to assess whether recurrent involuntary job loss among US workers nearing retirement resulted in increasingly less severe changes in depressive symptoms with successive job losses.

METHODS: With data drawn from the US Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), we used repeated measures longitudinal analysis to investigate the effect of recurrent job loss on follow-up depressive symptoms, measured up to 2 years following job loss. Study participants include 617 individuals, aged 51-61 years at the 1992 study baseline, who had at least one job loss between 1990 and 2000. Our primary outcome variable was a continuous measure of depressive symptoms, constructed from the 8-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) battery administered at every HRS wave. A second, dichotomous outcome, derived from the continuous measure, measured clinically relevant depressive symptoms. The exposure (recurrent job loss) was defined by binary dummy variables representing two and three/four job losses. All job losses were the result of either plant closing or layoff.

RESULTS: Our main finding indicates that, after relevant covariates are controlled, compared to one job loss, two job losses result in a modest increase in the level depressive symptoms (not significant) at two-year follow-up. Three or more job losses result, on average, in a decline in depressive symptoms to a level near pre-displacement assessment (not significant). Somewhat in contrast, two job losses were found to be associated with increased risk of clinically relevant depressive symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: The principal finding confirms our hypothesis that, among US workers nearing retirement, repeated exposure to job separation results in diminished effects on mental health. Adaptation to the job loss stressor may underlie the observed response, although other explanations, including macroeconomic developments, are possible.

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Endnote Keywords

depression/employment/life Course/Job Loss/RETIREMENT/Stress

Endnote ID


Alternate JournalInt Arch Occup Environ Health
Citation Key7115
PubMed ID16710713
PubMed Central IDPMC1904500
Grant ListK01 AG021983 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
P30 AG021342 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
K01AG021983 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States