Unemployment and poor health: testing the robustness of self-reported health measures
Catney, G. & O'Reilly, D. (2010) British Society for Population Studies annual conference 2010, University of Exeter, UK, 13 - 15 September 2010 [NILS]
Self-reported health is a commonly used measure of physical and mental morbidity in the UK and elsewhere. It is well-known that those who are unemployed are more likely to suffer from poor health than those who are working. This paper compares the population of areas with chronic (long- term) unemployment to areas with lower rates of unemployment to explore the economic (in)activity of the potential workforce and their self-reported health status. It would be expected that, ceteris paribus, those who have poor general health are more likely to be economically inactive than those who report good general health. However, some of those who are healthy may also be economically inactive, while some who are ill may stay in work; how does this compare between areas of high and low unemployment? The Northern Ireland Mortality Study is an exercise in data linkage which contains the full population of Northern Ireland enumerated in the 2001 Census linked to subsequent mortality in the six years which follow. Using these data, we assess how poor general health affects the likelihood of suffering mortality, and how this differs according to an individual’s economic (in)activity and the (un)employment rate for their area of residence. Results are reported in the context of assessing the robustness of self-reported health measures and differences in how health may be reported by individuals.