Is Insecurity Worse for Well-being in Turbulent Times? Mental Health in Context

Jack Lam, Wen Fan, Phyllis Moen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Using General Social Survey data, we examine whether any association between job insecurity and well-being is contingent on economic climate (comparing those interviewed in turbulent 2010 vs. pre-recessionary 2006), as well as income and gender. We find respondents with higher levels of job insecurity in 2010 reported lower levels of happiness compared to those similarly insecure in 2006. The positive relationship between job insecurity and days of poor mental health becomes more pronounced for those in the third quartile of personal income in 2010, suggesting middle-class vulnerability during the economic downturn. Men (but not women) with higher insecurity report more days of poor mental health in both 2006 and 2010. These findings reinforce a “cycles of control” theoretical approach, given the mental health–job insecurity relationship is heightened for workers in turbulent times.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-73
Number of pages19
JournalSociety and Mental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the McKnight Foundation for support of Professor Moen’s McKnight Presidential Chair. The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the Minnesota Population Center (5R24HD041023) funded through grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).


  • economic strains
  • gender
  • mental health
  • social class
  • work stress


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