A Startling Statistic About the Health of Unemployed Youth in the U.S.“Thriving” well-being is defined by Gallup and Healthways as possessing consistently good health and enough energy to get things done during the day. According to the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index, unemployed youth aged 15 to 29 enjoy slightly greater physical well-being compared with employed adults aged 50 and older. In 47 high income countries, young and older adults were basically tied in terms of increased well-being, but with the unemployed youth slightly edging out their older, employed counterparts, twenty-six (26%) to twenty-four percent (24%).
That young adults have more energy than older adults is not too surprising, however, unemployed youth in the U.S. have worse physical well-being than older employed workers. Only 23% of youth were thriving compared to 31% of older workers. In summary, those without jobs in the U.S. between the ages of 15-29 are in poorer health than those who are 50 + and have jobs and this stands in contrast to the rest of the world. Even more surprising is that only 14% of unemployed youth with college educations have thriving well-being while those with just a secondary education or primary education have double that at 27% and 28% respectively. Why is the U.S. an anomaly? Why is America’s unemployed youth less healthy than the rest of the world?
One suggestion for why unemployment affects Americans more is the stigma of being unemployed and this stigma could be more profound the higher the education levels attained. Spain, for example, has an unemployment rate among its youth near 40% while in the U.S. in July, the rate was only eleven percent. One might deduce that a higher unemployment rate would contribute to poorer health but the physical well-being of Spanish youth is higher than that of youth in the States. The hypothesis is that because so many Spanish youth are unemployed at the same time, they feel less stigmatized. They are able to share the burden of unemployment together.
A second theory is a lack of family support. A far greater number of unemployed youth living in lower and middle income economies worldwide, live with others, especially family, compared with many American youths who live alone. Physical well-being is often tied to emotional well-being and so an absence or the minimal provision of emotional support often provided by family, could adversely affect the health of American youth.
These statistics highlight a troublesome trend among America’s unemployed youth which should be monitored to ensure troublesome healthcare issues don’t arise especially among those with advanced education.
Beyond monitoring these healthcare issues we need to take a closer look at the source of the problem. Do Americans place a greater burden to succeed on themselves as compared with inhabitants of other nations? Those with higher educations, for example, have greater expectations placed on them to accomplish their goals and when they fall short, they appear to fall harder than most. What, if anything, can be done to provide greater support and well-being for those in their early stages of life so that they don’t end up on mom and dad’s couch?