In a newly published article, ‘Employment status and mortality in the context of high and low regional unemployment levels in Belgium (2001–2011): A test of the social norm hypothesis across educational levels.’ in PLOS ONE, Deborah De Moortel, Paulien Hagedoorn, Christophe Vanroelen and Sylvie Gadeyne investigate the relation between employment status and mortality in the context of high and low regional unemployment levels in Belgium.
Because of compositional effects (more highly educated unemployed) and differences in the vulnerability towards the health consequences of unemployment (i.e. disappointment paradox hypothesis and/or status inconsistency for highly educated unemployed), it is argued that indicators of educational attainment need to be included when investigating the social norm of unemployment. Data from the 2001 census linked to register data from 2001–2011 are used, selecting all Belgian employed and unemployed between 30 and 59-year-old at time of the census. Poisson multilevel modelling was used to account for clustering of respondents within sub-districts. For individuals with low education levels, the relative difference in mortality rate ratios between the unemployed and employed is smallest in those regions where aggregate unemployment levels are high. For highly educated, this social norm effect was not found. This study suggest that the social norm effect is stronger for workers with low education levels, while highly educated workers suffer from disappointment and status inconsistency.