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    Unemployment found to impact overall health

    © Belga

    The impact of unemployment on lifestyle, care and relations between individuals is obvious, a Cirtes (UCLouvain) – Interdisciplinary Centre for Research, Work, State and Society – a study has established.

    It was carried out at the request of Christian union CSC and its results are discussed in Wednesday’s Le Soir.

    At the request of the CSC, UCLouvain questioned nearly 1,000 job seekers. One respondent in two (50.3%) considers their health is good or very good and 34% judge it to be average. There accordingly remains one unemployed person in six (15.8%) who thinks that their health is bad. Nonetheless, that is more than among the wage earners: in a recent Eurostat survey, 2.4% of them say they are in bad if not very bad health.

    People surveyed in any case consider that unemployment does not impact on their health in a positive way. 42.6% accordingly state that their state of health has tended to decline or has strongly deteriorated since they have been out of work, while one respondent in two (50.1%) thinks their health has remained stable.

    Age and length of time out of work further accentuate this negative perception. Thus, “the respondents who have been unemployed for over two years during their careers are proportionately more numerous in seeing their current state of health get worse than those who have been without employment for less than two years over the course of their working lives.”

    Among the health problems quoted by the respondents, there are three that stand out: muscular pain (43.5%), depression or a state of depression (37.4%) and migraine (30.9%), to which may still be added chronic fatigue (17.5%). “The problem is that they are invisible illnesses,” Khadija Khourcha, an official with responsibility for the CSC’s Employment-less Workers, states.

    As much as for the respondents, unemployment has a negative impact on various aspects of daily life: eating habits (49.3%), physical activities (41.5%), leisure (48.7%), lifestyle (39.9%), smoking (23.3%) and alcohol consumption (15.6%). This represents an invisible deterioration in the quality of life that, in the medium term, results in a negative impact on health.

    The Brussels Times