Self-rated quality of life among unemployed people and people in work in northern Sweden

Abstract: Self-assessed quality of life (QoL) is analysed using a QoL questionnaire (Hörnquist’s QLcs)covering the life spheres: somatic health, mental well-being, cognitive ability, social and family life,activity, financial situation, meaning in life and a global score for ‘entire life’. In all, 487unemployed and 2917 employed subjects aged 25-64; and 651 unemployed subjects and 2802 inwork (including employment, studying and military service) in the 18-24 age group, wereinvestigated in a population-based cross-sectional study on life and health in northern Sweden in1997.In line with previous findings, results showed that unemployed people exhibited poorer QoL. Thegreatest difference between unemployed people and those in work was in the financial domain (18-24, 25-64). Unemployed women (aged 25-64) rated the final values of QoL – ‘entire life’ andmeaning in life – higher than unemployed men did. In the young group (aged 18-24), unemployedwomen did not rate any of the domains higher. The young unemployed men rated somatic health andmental well-being higher. Interaction effects were interpreted in the following way: a) unemployedmen (aged 25-64) were worst off in the global domain ‘entire life’; b) employed respondents, havinga university/college education was beneficial for QoL, while for unemployed respondents (25-64) itwas not; c) in the young group (aged 18-24), people in work rated their activity higher thanunemployed people, and the effect was strengthened when they were regularly active during leisure.Close friends and cash reserve were important for all participants, no matter whether they wereemployed or not. The risk of being young and unemployed was greater if the person had a shortereducation, worse economy (according to their own ratings) and was in the upper half of the agegroup (aged 21-24). Finally, the conclusion that QoL is poorer when in unemployment – both for theyoung and those who are older (aged 25-64) – is in line with earlier findings; however, in contrast tothree previous studies, we conclude that psychological well-being is even poorer for young peoplethan for those who are older.Intervention, in terms of steadily improved labour market conditions to counteract the negativeeffects of exclusion from the labour market, is of great importance from a public health perspective.