Is a bad job worse than no job at all?

Employees in low-paid or high stress jobs might be happier and healthier out of work, study suggests

Is a bad job worse than no job at all?
ing unemployment rates may be a leading cause for stress among many working age people, but according to a new study published by the University of Manchester, those employed in low-paying or highly stressful jobs may be even less healthy than those who are unemployed.

The study hoped to examine the correlation between health and job transition, focusing on comparing the health of those who remained unemployed with that of those who transitioned to poor quality work.

Researchers noted higher patterns of chronic stress among participants that moved into poor quality work – characterized by low pay or intense working conditions –than those adults who remained unemployed.

They found no health benefit in transitioning into jobs that entailed poor quality work. In fact, they found an overall decrease in mental health, meaning respondents were better off staying unemployed, rather than settling for poor quality jobs.

“Job quality cannot be disregarded from the employment success of the unemployed,” said Tarani Chandola, lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Manchester. “Just as good work is good for health, we must also remember that poor quality work can be detrimental to health.”

With unemployment on the rise both locally and internationally, finding one’s place in the workforce has never been more pressing an issue. But quality of work should not be overlooked. Workers should be prudent in their choices, and firms should take the key findings of this study to heart as well.

Not only is it to their economic advantage to look after the long-term health of their potential employees, firms should understand that they have an ethical obligation to provide healthy working environments as well.

Related stories:
Is working more than 25 hours a week bad for the brain?
Jobs are under attack – but not by robots

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