Linked generations: child’s transition into unemployment and parents’ mental well-being

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

August 15, 2023


Unemployment has a negative effect on the mental well-being of individuals who experience it. The well-being of the partners and children of these individuals is also negatively affected by this transition. Little is known, however, on the effect of the transition into unemployment on the mental well-being of the parents of unemployed people. This article analyses the association between child’s transition into unemployment and parents’ minor psychiatric morbidity, using the General Health Questionnaire score as a proxy. The effects of the length of the unemployment spell and the specific pathway into unemployment are investigated. Eventually, the moderating role of the national level of unemployment is also explored. Data from the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society are used. The results of the analyses indicate that child’s transition into unemployment has a small, statistically significant, negative effect on mothers’ mental well-being, whereas the effect on fathers’ distress is negligible. The association between mother’s mental well-being and child’s unemployment does not vary by the duration of the unemployment spell, or by the specific path into unemployment (from employment, studentship, or other inactive status). Differently, the negative effect of child’s unemployment on mother’s well-being is larger at higher levels of unemployment at the country level.

Published in

European Sociological Review

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 39 , p.501 -515







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