Taking a poor quality job can be worse than staying unemployed.
It flies in the face of accepted ideas and government policy but this is the conclusion of new research at Manchester University (1).
The scientific term for ‘wear and tear’ that builds up when an individual is exposed to repeated or chronic stress is allostatic load.
And higher allostatic load was what the research team found in previously unemployed people who took insecure or stressful jobs when compared to others who stayed unemployed.
They identified over 1000 people who were unemployed in 2009-10 and measured their health over the following 3 years as they returned to work. Those who took poor quality jobs – insecure, low pay, low autonomy — had the highest levels of chronic stress, higher than those who remained unemployed.
Policy-makers are rightly pleased that unemployment is at a record low (4).
But the Manchester study further explains why at Citizens Advice we’re campaigning to reduce the harm caused to families and society by poor quality work (2,3).