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A bad job is worse for your me ...

Posted Mar 25 2011 3:11am
A bad job is worse for your mental health than unemployment?

Groan! The usual rubbish interpretation of what causes what that we have come to expect of the epidemiological literature: People in dumb jobs tend to be working class and class is second only to age as a pervasive predictor of poor health. The claim (below) that dumb jobs CAUSE poor mental health is not only speculation but is bad speculation. By far the most probable cause of the correlation observed is that poor people are more likely to have bad mental health. Job may have nothing to do with it

AUSTRALIAN research that reveals being miserable in a job is worse for your mental health than being unemployed is making headlines around the world.

A team from the Centre for Mental Health Research at The Australian National University in Canberra analysed data from more than 7000 people to find that jobs offering little control, poor recognition and low pay were at greater risk to mental health than no job at all.

The ANU findings have hit the headlines in more than 100 media outlets around the world including Forbes, Bloomberg, CNN, Time, the UK Express, Toronto Sun, Los Angeles Times and Irish Times.

The research team claim the findings have huge implications for prevailing government social policies that promote “the notion that any job is better than none as work promotes economic as well as personal wellbeing.”

Using data collected in surveys since 2001, the ANU team looked at two key areas –the quality of the jobs held by participants and the state of their mental health in the preceding month leading up to their taking part in a survey.

Head of the research, ANU associate professor Dr Peter Butterworth, reported the team’s findings and methodology in the journal, Occupational Environmental Medicine.

“We looked at four different aspects of work in our study: whether people were working in highly complex and demanding jobs, whether they had a say in how they did their work, whether they considered they received fair pay for their efforts, and whether they felt secure in their job,” he said.

The mental health score was based on asking participants to describe their levels of anxiety, depression, happiness and feelings of calm in the month preceding the survey.

Employed people had an average score of 75.1. Those who moved from unemployment to a good job increased their score by 3.3 points above average and those taking a bad job saw their score drop 5.6 points below average. Remaining unemployed led to a drop of one point.

The ANU researchers say the findings have significant implications for prevailing government social policy that promotes “the notion that any job is better than none as work promotes economic as well as personal wellbeing.”

The study concludes that “psychosocial job quality is a pivotal factor that needs to be considered in the design and delivery of employment and welfare policy.”

The research follows the release of other studies showing job satisfaction levels in Australia are at a critical low right now.’s Hidden Hunters report was released last week to show job satisfaction levels are at their lowest since the research began four years ago.

Carried out by The Acid Test, the research looks at the triggers that “push” people out of one job and “pull” them into another.

Long hours, getting more work done with fewer resources and the reluctance of organisations to increase salaries were key “push” factors.

The 2011 survey of more than 1000 people found that 37 per cent were actively looking for a new job and 82 per cent were open to offers.

A separate global study conducted by Gallup Consulting including 2000 Australian has found most employees are “just going through the motions” at work right now.

The study found 61 per cent of workers were emotionally detached from work. A third of those not engaged had taken at least three sick days in the past month compared to only 11 per cent of engaged workers.


The Modern Liberal Bureaucrat

Does this sound like a real administrator, or a parody of an Orwellian government planner?

"In order to force choice into the market, we have to limit one choice that's overconcentrated."

"We might discourage businesspeople from going into a certain type of business."

"I don't think we can make the argument of unemployment over public health."

"You have to train people as to what may be beneficial to them."

Well, it's a real guy. Meet Bernard Parks, Los Angeles councilman and advocate of banning new fast food restaurants in certain areas of LA. He thinks that nefarious fast food enterprises are moving into his neighborhood and flourishing, and that somehow, even though they're flourishing, most people don't want them there!

Here's the truth: the fast food restaurants do well because people like them. Parks complains that you shouldn't be able to set up a new fast food restaurant when there are already three on neighboring streetcorners. Well of course you should be able to! And if people don't want you there, they won't come to your restaurant, you'll lose money and close. That's not how it's working in District 8, which he represents. The fast food enterprises are successful because people like them.

Oh, and another note: there are actually fewer fast food restaurants per capita in District 8 than there are in the rest of Los Angeles.

Everything above comes via ReasonTV's newest video, in which they make Bernard Parks look like a buffoon.

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