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The effects of unemployment: The effects on society

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According to Adrian Sinfield, when there is high unemployment (1) the employed feel less secure; (2) workers are less willing to leave unsatisfactory jobs; (3) divisions in society increase; (4) the prospect of equality of opportunity decreases. Some local areas can develop a culture of despair. Lea and Young argue that this occurred in some inner cities of Britain and helped cause the riots of the 1980s. Various attempts have been made to link unemployment to many social ills such as ill-health, premature death, attempted and actual suicide, marriage breakdown, child battering, racial conflicts and football hooliganism. There is evidence to link unemployment to poor health. For example, (1) unemployed school leavers in Leeds had poorer mental health than employed school leavers; (2) in 1971 a study based on the British census found a 20% higher mortality rate among the unemployed than among the employed; (3) a 1982 study of Edinburgh found the suicide and attempted suicide rate of unemployed men was 20 times higher than that of employed men; (4) studies indicate that children of the unemployed are not as tall as those of the employed. Such studies do not actually show that unemployment causes ill health, but they establish a statistical correlation. Chas Critcher, Bella Dicks and Dave Waddington in the early 1990s studied the effect of unemployment on two pit villages in Yorkshire using a questionnaire method. In both villages pit closure resulted in significant long-term unemployment, and there were high stress levels throughout the community. Women suffered as much as men; wives of miners had to bear the brunt of family poverty and cope with male despair. There were social and economic problems for the community as a whole, and the fabric of the villages started to decay. Crime increased. Both villages were communities that had experienced total disorientation. Unemployment costs the taxpayer. Between 1979 and 1985 unemployment benefits amounted to 33 billion. There is also a loss of tax revenue, since people who are out of work do not pay taxes.
Contents of

1 Unemployment statistics: The British Record
2 The social distribution of unemployment
3 Theories of unemployment: Frictional, Structural and Cyclical Unemployment
4 Theories of unemployment: Demand Deficient Unemployment
5 Theories of unemployment: Deindustrialisation and Structural unemployment
6 Marxist theories of unemployment
7 The effects of unemployment: The effects on society
8 The personal effects of unemployment
9 Psychological reactions to unemployment

Related articles: (1) Alienation, (2) Unemployment