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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Association between labour market trends and trends in young people's mental health in ten European countries 1983-2005

Anton CJ Lager123* and Sven G Bremberg23

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Health Equity Studies, CHESS, Stockholm University/Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

2 Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

3 Swedish National Institute of Public Health, Östersund, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2009, 9:325  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-325

Published: 8 September 2009

Abstract

Background

Mental health problems have become more common among young people over the last twenty years, especially in certain countries. The reasons for this have remained unclear. The hypothesis tested in this study is that national trends in young people's mental health are associated with national trends in young people's labour market.

Methods

National secular changes in the proportion of young people with mental health problems and national secular labour market changes were studied from 1983 to 2005 in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Results

The correlation between the national secular changes in the proportion of young people not in the labour force and the national secular changes in proportion of young people with mental health symptoms was 0.77 for boys and 0.92 for girls.

Conclusion

Labour market trends may have contributed to the deteriorating trend in mental health among young people. A true relationship, should other studies confirm it, would be an important aspect to take into account when forming labour market policies or policies concerning the delivery of higher education.