A bad job is worse for health than being jobless, finds study

A recent study has found that an unsatisfactory job is worse for one's psychology than no job at all.

The study by researchers from the Australian National University, Canberra, led by mental health researcher P Butterworth, found that some jobs are so bad that they are actually worse for employees' mental (and hence physical) well-being than not having a job at all.

For the study – published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine – the researchers analysed annual data over several years from 7,155 adults, evaluating links between the nature of their jobs and their mental health.

Specifically, they investigated ''whether the benefits of having a job depend on its psychosocial quality (levels of control, demands and complexity, job insecurity, and unfair pay), and whether poor quality jobs are associated with better mental health than unemployment''.

They found ''the mental health of those who were unemployed was comparable or superior to those in jobs of the poorest'' quality.

Poor-quality jobs were defined as those with high demands, low pay and a lack of autonomy and security. Participants were asked, for example, whether a job was ''more stressful than I ever imagined,'' whether it was ''complex and difficult,'' or whether it caused them to ''worry about the future''.