Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-v5vhk Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-14T21:06:58.517Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Job displacement and social safety net on depressive symptoms in individuals aged 45 years or above: findings from the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2017

Department of Public Health, Graduate School, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Institute of Health Services Research, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Department of Public Health, Graduate School, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Institute of Health Services Research, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Department of Public Health, Graduate School, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Institute of Health Services Research, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Institute of Health Services Research, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Department of Preventive Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Department of Public Health, Graduate School, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Institute of Health Services Research, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Institute of Health Services Research, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Department of Preventive Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Address for correspondence: Eun-Cheol Park, Department of Preventive Medicine and Institute of Health Services Research, Yonsei University College of Medicine, 50 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 120-752, Republic of Korea E-mail:


This study aimed to investigate the relationship between the unemployment experience and depressive symptoms among mid-aged (ages 45–59) and elderly (ages 60 or above) persons and to examine further the effects of unemployment insurance, industrial accident compensation insurance (IACI) and national pension on the stated relationship. Data were used from the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (KLoSA) between 2006 and 2012. A total of 1,536 individuals employed at the 2006 baseline were followed. The association between employment status change during 2006 to 2008, 2008 to 2010 or 2010 to 2012 and depressive symptoms in years 2008, 2010 or 2012 were analysed using a generalised estimating equation model. Depressive symptoms were measured with the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D 10) scale. The results showed that the ‘employed to unemployed’ group had statistically significant increases in depression scores in the mid-aged (β = 0.4884, p = 0.0038) and elderly (β = 0.8275, p ⩽ 0.0001) categories, compared to the ‘employed to employed’ group. Findings were maintained in groups without a social safety net. Contrastingly, the ‘employed to unemployed’ groups with unemployment insurance and IACI did not show statistically significant increases in depression scores. The ‘employed to unemployed’ category of individuals enrolled in the national pension system exhibited a lower increase of depression. Therefore, an enhanced focus on the mental health of unemployed individuals is required, in addition to the provision of a reliable social safety net.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Ahn, Y., Kang, S. and Kim, K. 2004. Analysis of occupational diseases compensated with the industrial accident compensation insurance from 2001 to 2003. Korean Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 16, 2, 139–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anaf, J., Baum, F., Newman, L., Ziersch, A. and Jolley, G. 2013. The interplay between structure and agency in shaping the mental health consequences of job loss. BMC Public Health, 13, 1, 110.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Andresen, E. M., Malmgren, J. A., Carter, W. B. and Patrick, D. L. 1994. Screening for depression in well older adults: evaluation of a short form of the CES-D. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 10, 2, 7784.Google Scholar
Artazcoz, L., Benach, J., Borrell, C. and Cortès, I. 2004. Unemployment and mental health: understanding the interactions among gender, family roles, and social class. American Journal of Public Health, 94, 1, 82–8.Google Scholar
Back, J. H. and Lee, Y. 2011. Gender differences in the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and depressive symptoms in older adults. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 52, 3, e1404.Google Scholar
Bonamore, G., Carmignani, F. and Colombo, E. 2015. Addressing the unemployment–mortality conundrum: non-linearity is the answer. Social Science & Medicine, 126, 6772.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Broom, D. H., D'Souza, R. M., Strazdins, L., Butterworth, P., Parslow, R. and Rodgers, B. 2006. The lesser evil: bad jobs or unemployment? A survey of mid-aged Australians. Social Science & Medicine, 63, 3, 575–86.Google Scholar
Brugiavini, A. 2001. Early retirement in Europe. European Review, 9, 4, 501–15.Google Scholar
Butterworth, P., Rodgers, B. and Windsor, T. D. 2009. Financial hardship, socio-economic position and depression: results from the PATH Through Life Survey. Social Science & Medicine, 69, 2, 229–37.Google Scholar
Chan, C. H., Caine, E. D., You, S., Fu, K. W., Chang, S. S. and Yip, P. S. F. 2014. Suicide rates among working-age adults in South Korea before and after the 2008 economic crisis. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 68, 3, 246–52.Google Scholar
Chan, S. and Stevens, A. H. 2001. Job loss and employment patterns of older workers. Journal of Labor Economics, 19, 2, 484521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cho, M. J., Lee, J. Y., Kim, B.-S., Lee, H. W. and Sohn, J. H. 2011. Prevalence of the major mental disorders among the Korean elderly. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 26, 1, 110.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Chu, W. M., Liao, W. C., Li, C. R., Lee, S. H., Tang, Y. J., Ho, H. E. and Lee, M. C. 2016. Late-career unemployment and all-cause mortality, functional disability and depression among the older adults in Taiwan: a 12-year population-based cohort study. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 65, 192–8.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Couch, K. A. 1998. Late life job displacement. Gerontologist, 38, 1, 717.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dooley, D. and Catalano, R. 1980. Economic change as a cause of mental disorder. Psychological Bulletin, 87, 3, 450–68.Google Scholar
Eskesen, L. L. 2010. Labor market dynamics in Korea – looking back and ahead. Korea and the World Economy, 11, 2, 231–61.Google Scholar
Farber, H. S. 1996. The changing face of job loss in the United States, 1981–1993. NBER Working Paper 5596, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferrie, J. E., Kivimaki, M., Shipley, M. J., Davey Smith, G. and Virtanen, M. 2013. Job insecurity and incident coronary heart disease: the Whitehall II prospective cohort study. Atherosclerosis, 227, 1, 178–81.Google Scholar
Fryer, D. 1992. Psychological or material deprivation: why does unemployment have mental health consequences. Mclaughlin, Eithne (ed), In Understanding Unemployment: New Perspectives on Active Labour Market Policies. Routledge, London, 103–25.Google Scholar
Gallo, W. T., Bradley, E. H., Dubin, J. A., Jones, R. N., Falba, T. A., Teng, H.-M. and Kasl, S. V. 2006. The persistence of depressive symptoms in older workers who experience involuntary job loss: results from the health and retirement survey. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 61B, 4, S2218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gallo, W. T., Bradley, E. H., Siegel, M. and Kasl, S. V. 2000. Health effects of involuntary job loss among older workers: findings from the health and retirement survey. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 55B, 3, S13140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Han, S. and Kim, H. 2014. Factors influencing depression in low-income elderly living at home based on ICF model. Journal of Korean Public Health Nursing, 28, 2, 333–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hanley, J. A., Negassa, A. and Forrester, J. E. 2003. Statistical analysis of correlated data using generalized estimating equations: an orientation. American Journal of Epidemiology, 157, 4, 364–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hu, P. F., Adler, N. E., Goldman, N., Weinstein, M. and Seeman, T. E. 2005. Relationship between subjective social status and measures of health in older Taiwanese persons. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 53, 3, 483–8.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Jahoda, M. 1981. Work, employment, and unemployment: values, theories, and approaches in social research. American Psychologist, 36, 2, 184–91.Google Scholar
Jang, S.-N., Cho, S.-I., Chang, J., Boo, K., Shin, H.-G., Lee, H. and Berkman, L. F. 2009. Employment status and depressive symptoms in Koreans: results from a baseline survey of the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 64B, 5, 677–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jones, R. S. and Tsutsumi, M. 2009. Sustaining growth in Korea by reforming the labor market and improving the education system. OECD Economics Department Working Paper 672, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris.Google Scholar
Karanikolos, M., Mladovsky, P., Cylus, J., Thomson, S., Basu, S., Stuckler, D., Mackenbach, J. P. and McKee, M. 2013. Financial crisis, austerity, and health in Europe. Lancet, 381, 9874, 1323–31.Google Scholar
Karpansalo, M., Kauhanen, J., Lakka, T., Manninen, P., Kaplan, G. and Salonen, J. 2005. Depression and early retirement: prospective population based study in middle aged men. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 59, 1, 70–4.Google Scholar
Kim, K. W., Park, J. H., Kim, M.-H., Kim, M. D., Kim, B.-J., Kim, S.-K., Kim, J. L., Moon, S. W., Bae, J. N. and Woo, J. I. 2011. A nationwide survey on the prevalence of dementia and mild cognitive impairment in South Korea. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 23, 2, 281–91.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kim, S. W. 2009. Social changes and welfare reform in South Korea: in the context of the late-coming welfare state. International Journal of Japanese Sociology, 18, 1, 1632.Google Scholar
Kim, S.-W. and Yoon, J.-S. 2013. Suicide, an urgent health issue in Korea. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 28, 3, 345–7.Google Scholar
Kim, T. J. and von dem Knesebeck, O. 2016. Perceived job insecurity, unemployment and depressive symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective observational studies. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 89, 4, 561–73.Google Scholar
Kohout, F. J., Berkman, L. F., Evans, D. A. and Cornoni-Huntley, J. 1993. Two shorter forms of the CES-D depression symptoms index. Journal of Aging and Health, 5, 2, 179–93.Google Scholar
Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs 2008. Living Profile and Welfare Service Needs of Older Persons in Korea. Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, Sejong City, Republic of Korea.Google Scholar
Lee, J. and Smith, J. P. 2009. Work, retirement, and depression. Journal of Population Ageing, 2, 1/2, 5771.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lei, X., Sun, X., Strauss, J., Zhang, P. and Zhao, Y. 2014. Depressive symptoms and SES among the mid-aged and elderly in China: evidence from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study national baseline. Social Science & Medicine, 120, 224–32.Google Scholar
Levande, D. I., Herrick, J. M. and Sung, K.-T. 2000. Eldercare in the United States and South Korea balancing family and community support. Journal of Family Issues, 21, 5, 632–51.Google Scholar
Lundin, A., Falkstedt, D., Lundberg, I. and Hemmingsson, T. 2014. Unemployment and coronary heart disease among middle-aged men in Sweden: 39 243 men followed for 8 years. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 71, 3, 183–8.Google Scholar
Mandal, B., Ayyagari, P. and Gallo, W. T. 2011. Job loss and depression: the role of subjective expectations. Social Science & Medicine, 72, 4, 576–83.Google Scholar
Mandal, B. and Roe, B. 2008. Job loss, retirement and the mental health of older Americans. Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, 11, 4, 167–76.Google Scholar
Milner, A., Page, A. and LaMontagne, A. D. 2013. Long-term unemployment and suicide: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One, 8, 1, e51333.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Montgomery, S., Udumyan, R., Magnuson, A., Osika, W., Sundin, P. O. and Blane, D. 2013. Mortality following unemployment during an economic downturn: Swedish register-based cohort study. BMJ Open, 3, 7, e003031.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Murphy, G. C. and Athanasou, J. A. 1999. The effect of unemployment on mental health. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 72, 1, 8399.Google Scholar
Olesen, S. C., Butterworth, P., Leach, L. S., Kelaher, M. and Pirkis, J. 2013. Mental health affects future employment as job loss affects mental health: findings from a longitudinal population study. BMC Psychiatry, 13, 1, 144.Google Scholar
Park, S. G., Min, K. B., Chang, S. J., Kim, H. C. and Min, J. Y. 2009. Job stress and depressive symptoms among Korean employees: the effects of culture on work. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 82, 3, 397405.Google Scholar
Paul, K. I. and Moser, K. 2009. Unemployment impairs mental health: meta-analyses. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 74, 3, 264–82.Google Scholar
Prause, J., Dooley, D. and Huh, J. 2009. Income volatility and psychological depression. American Journal of Community Psychology, 43, 1/2, 5770.Google Scholar
Riumallo-Herl, C., Basu, S., Stuckler, D., Courtin, E. and Avendano, M. 2014. Job loss, wealth and depression during the Great Recession in the USA and Europe. International Journal of Epidemiology, 43, 5, 1508–17.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sang, Y. G. 2003. An analysis on policy effects of Korean Employment Insurance System: focusing on policy beneficiaries. The Korean Association for Policy Studies, 12, 4, 175201.Google Scholar
Singh, A. and Misra, N. 2009. Loneliness, depression and sociability in old age. Industrial Psychiatry Journal, 18, 1, 51–5.Google Scholar
Surtees, P. G., Wainwright, N. W. and Khaw, K. T. 2006. Resilience, misfortune, and mortality: evidence that sense of coherence is a marker of social stress adaptive capacity. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 61, 2, 221–7.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Tefft, N. 2011. Insights on unemployment, unemployment insurance, and mental health. Journal of Health Economics, 30, 2, 258–64.Google Scholar
Virtanen, M., Nyberg, S. T., Batty, G. D., Jokela, M., Heikkila, K., Fransson, E. I., Alfredsson, L., Bjorner, J. B., Borritz, M., Burr, H., Casini, A., Clays, E., De Bacquer, D., Dragano, N., Elovainio, M., Erbel, R., Ferrie, J. E., Hamer, M., Jockel, K. H., Kittel, F., Knutsson, A., Koskenvuo, M., Koskinen, A., Lunau, T., Madsen, I. E., Nielsen, M. L., Nordin, M., Oksanen, T., Pahkin, K., Pejtersen, J. H., Pentti, J., Rugulies, R., Salo, P., Shipley, M. J., Siegrist, J., Steptoe, A., Suominen, S. B., Theorell, T., Toppinen-Tanner, S., Vaananen, A., Vahtera, J., Westerholm, P. J., Westerlund, H., Slopen, N., Kawachi, I., Singh-Manoux, A., Kivimaki, M. and Consortium, I. P.-W. 2013. Perceived job insecurity as a risk factor for incident coronary heart disease: systematic review and meta-analysis. British Medical Journal, 347, f4746.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Whiteford, P. and Whitehouse, E. 2006. Pension challenges and pension reforms in OECD countries. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 22, 1, 7894.Google Scholar
Yang, Y. 2011. No way out but working? Income dynamics of young retirees in Korea. Ageing & Society, 31, 2, 265–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Yoon, H. S. 2013. Korea: balancing economic growth and social protection for older adults. Gerontologist, 53, 3, 361–8.Google Scholar