Kamerade-Hanta and Bennett, “Rewarding work: cross-national differences in benefits, volunteering during unemployment, well-being and mental health”
Daiga Kamerāde (Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Research Methods at the University of Salford) and Matthew R. Bennett (Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Birmingham) have written a paper for the journal Work, Employment and Society in which they examine changes in the structure of the labor market and their impact on mental health and well-being.
Kamerāde and Bennett use data from the European Quality of Life Survey to analyze differences in mental health status between unemployed individuals in different nations, as well as between those who engaged in volunteer work and those who did not. (The dataset consisted of 2,440 individuals, all unemployed, from 29 European countries.) While it is known that unemployment is associated with lower mental health, Kamerāde and Bennett investigate whether receipt of government support and participation in voluntary work can improve mental health and well-being.
One of their most important findings is that, in countries with less generous unemployment benefits, volunteer work is associated with worse mental health outcomes — even though volunteer work shows beneficial effects on mental health in countries with more generous benefits. Based on this result, the authors conclude that “financial support for the unemployed” – possibly through (as they mention) a guaranteed basic income or citizen’s income scheme – “should occupy a central position in theoretical perspectives focusing on reducing the negative effects of unemployment”:
The findings indicate that financial support during periods of unemployment remains crucial for well-being and mental health. Although individuals can boost one dimension of their own well-being (feeling that their life is worthwhile) by exercising their agency through engaging in work that is an alternative to paid work, such engagement without any financial support can also damage their mental health. These findings suggest that financial support for the unemployed – through unemployment benefits, guaranteed basic income (Gorz, 1989), citizens income (Standing, 2011), etc. – should occupy a central position in theoretical perspectives focusing on reducing the negative effects of unemployment.
Full article available at the following link:
Daiga Kamerade-Hanta and Matthew R. Bennett (December 2016) “Rewarding work: cross-national differences in benefits, volunteering during unemployment, well-being and mental health,” Work, Employment and Society.
Reviewed by Genevieve Shanahan
Photo: CC BY 2.0 Virginia State Parks