Having a bad job can be worse for health than having no job, a study published Tuesday has revealed.
The new study by the University of Manchester found that people employed in low-paying or highly stressful jobs may not enjoy better health than those who remain unemployed.
The aim of the study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, was to examine the association of job transition with health and stress.
The researchers compared the health of people who remained unemployed with those who transitioned to poor quality work.
The study monitored over 1,000 participants aged 35-75 who were unemployed during 2009-2010, following up with them during the next few years about their self-reported health and their levels of chronic stress as indicated by their hormones and other biomarkers related to stress.
A spokesman for the university said: "There was a clear pattern of the highest levels of chronic stress for adults who moved into poor quality work, higher than those adults who remained unemployed. Adults who found a good quality job had the lowest levels of biomarkers."
The research showed that working into any type of job (whether it was a good or poor quality job) was not associated with an improvement in physical health compared to those who remained unemployed.
"Good quality work was associated with an improvement in mental health scores compared to remaining unemployed, but there were no differences in mental health scores between those who transitioned into poor quality work and those who remained unemployed," the research found.
Researchers at Manchester found evidence that formerly unemployed adults who moved into poor quality jobs had elevated risks for a range of health problems, compared to adults who remained unemployed.
They found little evidence that re-employment into poor quality jobs was associated with better health and lower adverse levels of biomarkers related to chronic stress compared to remaining unemployed - instead, the evidence suggested that it was associated with higher levels of chronic stress-related biomarkers.
Professor Tarani Chandola, an expert in medical sociology at the university's Cathie Marsh Institute and Social Statistics, School of Social Science, said: "Job quality cannot be disregarded from the employment success of the unemployed. Just as good work is good for health, we must also remember poor quality work can be detrimental for health."