Paying out bigger benefits in lean times is literally a lifesaver for the jobless
A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology finds that greater unemployment benefits can decrease the rate of suicides.
The research team, led by Jon Cylus at the London School of Economics, acknowledged that suicide was caused by a variety of factors, but determined that income loss and loneliness predicated by unemployment were key.
The 2008 financial crisis suggested a correlation between suicides and the availability of employment — with the suicide rate in North America and Europe increasing by an estimated 10,000 people per year from 2007 to 2010, compared with prior years. When Cylus and his team examined the allocation of unemployment benefits from 1968 to 2008, however, they found that greater cash assistance reduced the burdens caused by joblessness.
Although suicide is the most severe outcome of unemployment, financial distress can also lead to mental and health issues — which the team also noted could be mitigated by improved benefits.
The study concluded that more financial assistance at times of need could save lives. “If the unemployment rate increases, having better benefits is going to buffer the effect,” Cylus told HuffPost.