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The health effects of employment
  1. Pekka Virtanen
  1. Correspondence to Dr Pekka Virtanen, Institute of Advanced Social Research (School of Health Sciences), University of Tampere, Tampere 33014, Finland; pekka.j.virtanen{at}

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A large body of research has accumulated about the health effects of the occurrence of and exposure to unemployment, projecting these events and episodes as being stressful. Hence, logically, resuming employment can be assumed to be a process that, although accompanied by a wide variety of work-related physical and psychosocial risks, is predominantly positive and enhances well-being and health. Questions as to whether this is in fact the case have generated a considerable body of longitudinal studies and also enabled meta-analyses as reported in the review by van der Noordt et al.1 The carefully conducted and clearly reported review provides convincing evidence of the beneficial effects of employment on mental health and demonstrates the knowledge gap as regards the effects on somatic health and mortality. Moreover, the review gives an impetus for elaborations with respect to further studies. There are four topics of particular relevance.

First, the enduring depression that began at the downturn of the global economy in the late 2000s has revived scholars from the end of the past millennium who were predicting the emergence of a postmodern, less work-based, social order in the Western world,2 even …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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