Lay-offs increase risk of premature death: Study

Job loss could cost workers one to two years of life

People who lose their jobs may be at risk of dying earlier, according to a new study by two American economists.

The study tracked more than 20,000 workers, including 7,000 who lost their jobs in layoffs, in Pennsylvania over 30 years.

The study compared the number of deaths of laid-off workers to those of employees who didn't lose their jobs.

It found a 15- to 20-per-cent increase in mortality for laid-off workers in the 20 years after the layoff, which leads to a loss of life expectancy of one to two years.

To calculate the mortality risk, the study factored in the impact of job loss on a person's earnings, the individual's career stability and the health status of the individual.

One of the study's authors, Till Von Wachter, a labour economist at Columbia University in New York, believes the risk of dying is most pronounced for those in their late 30s and early 40s.

The increased risk of death is most likely due to the longer exposure to chronic stress, said Von Wachter.

"Younger workers experience the negative consequences of mass-layoffs on their careers for much longer periods of time," according to the study.

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