More bad news for unemployed people
A couple of years ago the TUC published The Costs of Unemployment, a briefing on the price paid for unemployment by individual unemployed people and society as a whole. After I read today’s General Lifestyle Survey, 2010 I realised we’ll need a new edition with a couple of extra sections. (If you want more details than are in the Survey itself, the Excel files linked to it are well worth studying.)
First, there’s new data showing unemployed people are more likely to smoke:
Now, you can’t take these figures at face value, people in routine occupations are more likely than other groups to smoke and also more likely to become unemployed, so I don’t think you can use these figures to show that unemployment causes people to smoke. (It may well do, but this doesn’t prove it.)
But you can take it in conjunction with another statistic in the Survey – that 64 per cent of smokers would like to give up smoking, including 62 per cent of smokers in the “routine and manual” socio-economic classification. Add that to the fact that unemployed people are particularly likely to be poor (two thirds of people on Jobseeker’s Allowance have an income below 60 per cent of the median after housing costs, a much higher proportion than for any other income replacement benefit) and therefore have an extra incentive not to smoke.
All these facts to me suggest that unemployed people are more likely to smoke than other groups because they are more likely to be stressed and unhappy. In other words, we have more evidence to undermine the notion that unemployed workers live the life of Riley at taxpayers’ expense and that we’re mugs to go on funding it.
A second point I’d take from the survey is the link between chronic sickness and disability and being out of work for a long time:
Percentage of men reporting long-standing illness or disability:
- Working 23
- Unemployed 26
- Economically inactive 59
Percentage of women reporting long-standing illness or disability:
- Working 25
- Unemployed 29
- Economically inactive 52
Of course, these figures don’t tell us whether being long-term unemployed makes you more likely to be sick or disabled or whether causation runs the other way, but it is a fact that there’s a very clear ‘social gradient’:
There’s a similar gradient for the number of days of ‘restricted activity’. It’s clear that this social gradient affects women more strongly than men and that disability and/or illness is a class issue.