Job Displacement Has a Lasting Impact on Social Participation of the Workers

by Hannah Punitha on Sep 3 2008 5:43 PM

Workers who're laid off are likely to withdraw themselves from social and community groups, a new study has found.

The research team from UCLA-University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has revealed that job displacement has a lasting impact on social participation of the workers.

Displaced workers were 35 pct less likely to be involved in their communities than their counterparts who had never experienced a job loss due to layoff, downsizing or restructuring, or a business closing or relocating.

Moreover, the isolation continued not just through the unemployment period, but for the rest of the workers' lives.

"What we find is that even just one disruption in employment makes workers significantly less likely to participate in a whole range of social activities - from joining book clubs to participating in the PTA and supporting charities," said Jennie E. Brand, a UCLA sociologist and the study's lead author.

"After being laid off or downsized, workers are less likely to give back to their community," she added.

During the study, Brand along with University of Michigan sociologist Sarah A. Burgard, Brand analysed at 4,373 participants in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which has tracked a group of 1957 Wisconsin high school graduates for more than 45 years.

The study showed that youth and community groups experienced the strongest exodus followed by church and church groups, charitable organizations and leisurely activities, including country club attendance.

It also showed that workers who were displaced during their peak earning years, between 35 and 53 years, the effects were the strongest.

However, non-displaced workers were 1.2 to 1.5 times more likely to participate across all forms of social and community activities than workers who had been displaced.

This was the case for both ages examined by the researchers - 53 as well as at 64 years of age.

"Workers can be displaced early in their career, and they're still less likely to be participating at age 60 than their counterparts who have never been displaced," Brand said.

The study showed that after finding a new job, displaced workers were more likely to strike up with professional organizations than with youth groups or community centres.

"Displaced workers may be more likely to keep up with professional groups than other groups because they're trying to make up for lost ground with respect to their careers," said Brand.

However, employees who experienced the disruption during the tail end of their careers were less likely to withdraw than workers who were displaced earlier in their careers.