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Job loss, wealth and depression during the Great Recession in the USA and Europe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Carlos Riumallo-Herl, Sanjay Basu, David Stuckler, Emilie Courtin, Mauricio Avendano

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1508-1517
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number5
Early online date14 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

King's Authors


Aim: To examine whether late-career job loss increased depression among older workers approaching retirement in the USA and Europe.

Methods: Longitudinal data came from the Health and Retirement Survey and the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe. Workers aged 50 to 64 years in 13 European countries and the USA were assessed biennially from 2006 to 2010. Individual fixed effects models were used to test the effect of job loss on depressive symptoms, controlling for age, sex, physical health, initial wealth and socio-demographic factors.

Results: Job loss was associated with a 4.78% [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.823% to 8.74%] increase in depressive symptoms in the USA compared with a 3.35% (95% CI: 0.486% to 6.22%) increase in Europe. Job loss due to a worker's unexpected firm closure increased depression scores in both the USA (beta=28.2%, 95% CI: 8.55% to 47.8%) and Europe (beta=7.50%, 95% CI: 1.25% to 13.70%), but pooled models suggested significantly stronger effects for US workers (P<0.001). American workers who were poorer before the recession experienced significantly larger increases in depressive symptoms compared with wealthier US workers (beta for interaction=-0.054, 95% CI: -0.082 to -0.025), whereas pre-existing wealth did not moderate the impact of job loss among European workers.

Conclusions: Job loss is associated with increased depressive symptoms in the USA and Europe, but effects of job loss due to plant closure are stronger for American workers. Wealth mitigates the impact of job loss on depression in the USA more than in Europe.

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