Friday, April 23, 2010

Unemployment's Unexpected Consequences

As I was browsing the web this week I came across an article that I found quite astounding. The article was online at The Atlantic magazine and dealt with the socio-economic impact of unemployment on neighborhoods and the long tail effects going out ten, twenty, and thirty years.

What I found interesting about the article was the premise. That is, the idea that unemployment was a problem that was rather long-term in nature was something that quite honestly I'd never really given much thought to. However, given how long and deep the downturn has been (e.g. even in the face of an upswing in the stock market, many people still are out of work), it is not hard to believe that there will be some longer term effects.

This article about unemployment takes this concept and really explores it to the depths.

The idea begins with a common example, that men (and people in general) often feel that their job is a major part of their identity. And in a protracted period of unemployment, that can go away. The article cites examples from
The Unemployed Man and His Family, by Mirra Komarovsky

Her research revealed deep psychological wounds. “It is awful to be old and discarded at 40,” said one father. “A man is not a man without work.” Another said plainly, “During the depression I lost something. Maybe you call it self-respect, but in losing it I also lost the respect of my children, and I am afraid I am losing my wife.” Noted one woman of her husband, “I still love him, but he doesn’t seem as ‘big’ a man.”

The article is long and is worth reading as it might give you some insight into the issues around unemployment and may help you realize how important it is to value steady employment (if the current situation wasn't enough motiviation already ;))

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