The impact of low education and poor health on unemployment varies by work life stage

Sander K. R. van Zon*, Sijmen A. Reijneveld, Carlos F. Mendes de Leon, Ute Bultmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives: The aim of this study is to examine associations and interactions of education, and physical and mental health with unemployment in early, mid, and late work life.

Methods: This cross-sectional study uses data from 69,118 respondents from Lifelines. Health status was measured with the RAND-36, education was self-reported, and participants working <12 h per week or indicating to be unemployed were considered unemployed. The relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI) was calculated to measure interaction on the additive scale.

Results: Interactions of low education and poor mental health were found in early [RERI: 2.14; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.63, 3.65], mid (1.41; 0.61, 2.20) and late (0.63; 0.09, 1.17) work life. Interaction between low education and poor physical health was only found in mid-work life (1.27; 0.61, 1.93).

Conclusions: Low education and poor physical and mental health exacerbate each other's impact on unemployment varying by work life stage. Policies addressing unemployment may become more effective if they better account for the physical and mental health status of adults in certain stages of their work life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)997-1006
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2017


  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Unemployment
  • Education
  • Work life stage
  • Interaction
  • EXIT

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