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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Downsizing bad for employees' health

                                                                            Older workers who find themselves in jobs where there are demotions and downsizing are more likely to develop health problems, a recent study suggests.

New research finds that people over age 50 have particular risk of
developing health problems such as depression, high blood pressure and elevated stress hormone levels.

Men tend to suffer more from physical symptoms such as hypertension, while women are more susceptible to mood changes such as higher levels of hostility, loneliness and depression.

"The correlation between job insecurity and health is different in men and women but may be clinically significant in both populations and is a potentially important threat to older adults' health and well-being," reads the study.

Researchers at the University of Chicago studied 200 men and women, split evenly.

Older workers were selected because of their greater presence in the workforce. "Workers aged 55 years and older are the only sector among all age groups that has experienced strong growth in its participation in the labour market during the last two decades," reads the study.

During this 20-year period, there has been a massive surge in unemployment and a stock market downturn, leading to a loss of 180,500 jobs in the Chicago area where the study's participants were selected, according to the study.

The research, based on a study first administered in 2002 and administered again each year, includes respondents who participated in two consecutive waves of data.

Respondents had their blood pressure and urine samples taken and had psychological assessments performed as well.

For men over 50, the study finds job insecurity causes a significant increase in blood pressure. Those facing job instability had a rise in blood pressure of five points versus one point for women over 50 in secure jobs. High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.

The study was published in the January issue of the The Journals of Gerontology: Psychological and Social Sciences.


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