Socioeconomic status, labour market connection, and self-rated psychological health: the role of social capital and economic stress

Martin Lindström, Sadiq M Ali, Maria Rosvall
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 2012, 40 (1): 51-60

AIMS: To investigate the association between socioeconomic status, unemployment and self-rated psychological health, taking economic stress and horizontal trust into account.

DESIGN/SETTING/PARTICIPANTS/MEASUREMENTS: The 2008 public health survey in Skåne is a cross-sectional postal questionnaire study with a 55% participation rate. A random sample was invited and 28,198 persons aged 18-80 participated. Logistic regression models were used to investigate associations between socioeconomic status by occupation (SES), labour market connection and self-rated psychological health (GHQ12). The multiple regression analyses included age, country of birth, education, economic stress and generalized (horizontal) trust.

RESULTS: 13.8% of the men and 18.2% of the women had poor psychological health. Poor psychological health was more common among the young, among those born abroad, among those with lower education, with economic stress, and low horizontal trust. There were no significant differences between the employed and self-employed groups. However, the people who had retired early, the unemployed and those on long-term sick leave had significantly higher odds ratios of poor psychological health than higher non-manual employees throughout the analyses.

CONCLUSIONS: There were no differences in psychological health between non-manual employees in higher positions and other employed and self-employed SES groups among men or women. In contrast, the early retired, the unemployed and the category on long-term sick leave had significantly higher odds ratios of poor psychological health among both men and women throughout the multiple analyses. Both economic stress and trust affected this association (i.e., lowered the odds ratios of poor psychological health), but affected by economic stress to a somewhat higher extent.

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