Contrary to the common belief, researchers have found that men and women might experience similar rates of anxiety due to job insecurity.
As more people work temporary gigs with little protection or fear layoffs in an unstable economy, job insecurity is on the rise. These stresses understandably contribute to poor mental health and feelings of anxiety.
But given gender disparities in the workforce – women are more likely to work temporary jobs and receive lower pay – researchers were curious whether job insecurity affected men and women differently.
“Public health consequences of job insecurity need to be seriously considered, given that recent changes due to Covid-19 crisis, are likely to result in a higher prevalence of workers, both males and females, feeling threatened by involuntary job loss,” said study researchers from the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Sociology, analysed data from the European Working Conditions Survey, looking at results from 2005, 2010 and 2015.
The survey asked people to what extent they thought they might lose their job in the next six months and whether they had experienced anxiety over the last 12 months.
The study found that, in Europe, men and women actually reacted to job insecurity fairly similarly. Female workers reported similar rates of anxiety due to an insecure job to their male counterparts.
This may be due to trends towards gender egalitarianism in Europe.
But while women and men might be affected at similar rates, the researchers said that job insecurity is very much still a real concern.
In order to analyse whether the threat of job insecurity was more pronounced in certain European countries due to socioeconomic, cultural, or political variables, the team used multilevel modelling analyses.
They found few cross-national differences in their results, meaning the relationship between job insecurity and anxiety did not vary between countries.
“The study was limited by the fact that all data were self-reported and taken at a single time point, so cause-and-effect cannot be determined,” the researchers wrote.
The findings have practical implications for both policymakers and employers and suggest that generous and more effective active labour market programmes are needed in order to address perceived job insecurity and its associated mental health challenges.