Job satisfaction in someone’s twenties and thirties can affect mental and physical health by the forties, according to a nationwide study presented this month at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. Researchers found the effects of a job on mental health were particularly strong.
How Satisfied Are People with Their Jobs?
Researchers from Ohio State University used data on 6,432 Americans from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which followed people who were between the ages of 14 and 22 at the start of the survey in 1979.
Participants ranked job satisfaction on a scale of 1-4 when they were between the ages of 25 and 39. Researchers then divided participants into four groups: those with consistently low job satisfaction, those with consistently high job satisfaction, those with job satisfaction that began low and improved, and those whose job satisfaction started high but declined. Those in the low job satisfaction group had an average job satisfaction score of just below 3, which researchers interpreted as a fair amount of job satisfaction.happiness with their jobs, and 17% began with low satisfaction that trended upward.
Job Satisfaction’s Effects on Mental Health
At 40, participants provided data about their overall health. Using those with high job satisfaction as the reference point, researchers compared how the other three groups—each of whom had periods of low satisfaction—fared by comparison.
Low job satisfaction throughout early careers produced the worst scores on measures of sleep quality, depression, worry, emotional issues, and overall mental health. People with declining job satisfaction also reported worse mental health and were especially likely to struggle with poor sleep and excessive worry. They did not have higher rates of depression or emotional concerns compared to those with consistently high job satisfaction. Increasing career satisfaction did not correlate with additional mental health issues.
Job satisfaction also affected physical health, though not as significantly as mental health. Low job satisfaction correlated with more back pain and more colds compared to higher satisfaction, but researchers found no increase in serious illnesses such as cancer or diabetes.
Grabmeier, J. (2016, August 22). Lousy jobs hurt your health by the time you’re in your 40s. Retrieved from https://news.osu.edu/news/2016/08/22/lousy-jobs/
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