The prospects for the re-employment of older workers deteriorate sharply the longer they are unemployed. A worker between ages 50 and 61 who has been unemployed for 17 months has only about a 9 percent chance of finding a new job in the next three months. A worker who is 62 or older and in the same situation has only about a 6 percent chance. As unemployment increases in duration, these slim chances drop steadily.Dean Baker and Kevin Hassett: The Human Disaster of Unemployment
The result is nothing short of a national emergency. Millions of workers have been disconnected from the work force, and possibly even from society. If they are not reconnected, the costs to them and to society will be grim.
Unemployment is almost always a traumatic event, especially for older workers. A paper by the economists Daniel Sullivan and Till von Wachter estimates a 50 to 100 percent increase in death rates for older male workers in the years immediately following a job loss, if they previously had been consistently employed. This higher mortality rate implies that a male worker displaced in midcareer can expect to live about one and a half years less than a worker who keeps his job.
There are various reasons for this rise in mortality. One is suicide. A recent study found that a 10 percent increase in the unemployment rate (say from 8 to 8.8 percent) would increase the suicide rate for males by 1.47 percent. This is not a small effect. Assuming a link of that scale, the increase in unemployment would lead to an additional 128 suicides per month in the United States. The picture for the long-term unemployed is especially disturbing. The duration of unemployment is the dominant force in the relationship between joblessness and the risk of suicide.
Joblessness is also associated with some serious illnesses, although the causal links are poorly understood. Studies have found strong links between unemployment and cancer, with unemployed men facing a 25 percent higher risk of dying of the disease. Similarly higher risks have been found for heart disease and psychiatric problems.
And it's not just the workforce: even in their formative years, American teenagers are dying faster:
American teenagers have the highest rates of drug and alcohol abuse in the developed world. And they are far more likely to be killed by violence than peers in Europe.U.S. teens worst in western world for binge-drinking, drugs and violent deaths
This lost generation, whose unemployment rate is 20 percent, leads the modern world in some of the most dangerous and irresponsible behaviors, according to a new study released by the Lancet medical journal.
The shocking data was released to highlight cultural neglect occurring in the adolescents and young adults -- too many of whom die young, according to the researchers behind the publication.
Not all the news is bad. American teens appear to have the highest rates of exercise in the developed world.
Despite this, American teens, age 13 to 15 are dramatically more likely to be overweight, leading the western world, according to the data.
Among the most startling discoveries of the Lancet data is how much higher the rates of teen violent death are in the US than the rest of the developed world.
About 17 in 100,000 teen boys age 15 to 19 are killed by violence. The next two closest countries are Israel and Switzerland, with four.
Britain's rate is just one.
And as for the elderly, well, things aren't looking good. Naked Capitalism referred to this article: Your retirement health-care tab will run $240,000 with the comment: "The plan is clearly to have old people die faster." Do you have 240,000 laying around for health care? And that comment is echoed once again in this article from the same site, which concludes:
I’ve never understood when (once in a while) someone (clearly young) shows up in comments and rails against Social Security and Medicare because of the burden it imposes on him. Now I get it. The student debt issue is deepening social fractures. If young people are asked to stand on their own, and given only unpalatable choices (forego a college degree, the entrance ticket to middle class life, or accept debt slavery at a tender age), no wonder they adopt a “devil take the hindmost” attitude. I hope some of these people who so cavalierly argue for loading up the next generation with debt realize that the young may not want to take care of them either, and they are far more at risk. The outcome of cutting social safety nets to the elderly ultimately means that old people will die faster.Does anyone at this point think the jobs are going to come back? That Medicare and Social Security will be saved? that health care will become affordable or that health care" insurance" will not bleed the Boomers dry of money, leaving nothing for the next generation already sunk under debt? As I said, thus it proceeds.
Keep in mind, our leaders have the absolute best education for their own children and have health care par exellance for themselves (how many bypasses has Cheney had?). They live in exclusive communities with armies of people to protect them from the constituents that they "serve". As long as that continues, does anyone believe any of this is going to reverse course without some sort of revolution?