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Study: Unemployed Death Rate Higher

Posted September. 08, 2006 07:00,   


Those who lost their jobs since the Asian financial crisis were on average twice more likely to die during the next four years since they were fired than ordinary workers for the same period of time, showed a survey.

This result is revealed in a doctoral dissertation titled, “Impact on Death of Unemployment in times of Economic Crisis” submitted to Yonsei University by Kim Hyeong-ryeol, a specialist of industrial medicine.

This survey is the first of its kind to shed light on the correlations between losing jobs and death by tracking the unemployed in Korea person by person.

Dr. Kim’s study was based on 31,137 workers aged between 20 and 55 who got a medical check-up in a medical center in Incheon in 1996. They were then divided into those who lost jobs and those who kept working. The former group, again, was classified according to the year when they were fired. Then Dr. Kim compared the death rate of each group during the next four years after their dismissal.

For an accurate comparison, he controlled subjects’ age, pre-dismissal health and other variables.

The study shows that of the 4742-odd unemployed group, 115 died within 4 years after getting fired, or 2.4% of the total, while for the same period, the death rate of the working group was 1.3 %, less than half the first group.

In addition, the death rate peaked during 1998 and 1999, a period right after the financial crisis. This translates that as workers experienced a massive nationwide lay-off for the first time without a system for the unemployed like job-loss benefits or job training in place, they might have been shocked, leading to severe stress and consequently even death.

One out of five people died from cardiovascular diseases like cerebral hemorrhage and myocardial infarction. Suicide accounted for 8% of the causes of death.