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The social costs of unemployment: accounting for unemployment duration

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This article contributes to the literature on unemployment and well-being by investigating the linkage between personal life satisfaction and a macroeconomic indicator of the duration of unemployment. Using data for more than 50 000 individuals in 10 European countries, 1992–2002, we find that the social costs of unemployment, in terms of general unemployment's impact on life satisfaction, relate significantly and to a considerable extent to unemployment duration. It is thus not just the risk of becoming or staying unemployed that people worry about, but especially the prospect of staying long-term unemployed. This fear affects employed and unemployed people alike. Our findings provide a strong point for focusing labour market policies on long-term unemployment, in addition to considerations of human capital depreciation.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Applied Labour Studies, 19055 Schwerin, Germany 2: Department of Economics,University of Oldenburg, 26111 Oldenburg, Germany

Publication date: 2011-11-01

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