Last week we looked at what happened next after a study published in 1995. This time another update, but more complex in its findings, on the relationship between ill health and staying in work. Clear thinking needed!
The original paper showed that, compared to professional and managerial workers, men [sic] whose jobs were semiskilled, personal service, or unskilled manual were more likely to lose their jobs in a recession but also:
"Men with chronic illness in manual occupations were not drawn back into the labour force during the economic recovery of the late 1980s."
A double whammy.
The new study repeats the old one and adds another 16 years of data i.e. covers the period 1973 - 2009. The analysis is actually quite simple, and a series of trend graphs separately for men and women tell the story. The key issue is that 'unemployed' is different from 'economically inactive'. The latter means that people have dropped out of the workforce completely.
The graphs for 'unemployed' show no difference in ups and downs for those who declare long term illness and those who do not. But for 'economically inactive' the rates are higher, and the gap is wider, for those in semi-skilled and unskilled jobs.
Also of interest is the great rise over the past 30 years in employment of women.
The data source for all this is the General Household Survey and its successor the General Lifestyle Survey. The question on limiting long term illness is simple but this study shows the value of consistent, long term data collection. Unfortunate, then, that it was terminated in 2012.