Poverty and Mental Illness in People Excluded from the Labor Market in Japan

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:00 PM
Room: F204
Oral Presentation
Namie NAGAMATSU , Sociology, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan
Takahiro TABUCHI , Osaka Medical Center for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases, Japan
The unemployment rate in Japan remains at around 5%, with the proportion of the long-term unemployed higher than in other OECD countries. Our objective is to examine whether and to what extent labor market exclusion is associated with poverty and mental health, using data from the 2004, 2007, and 2010 Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions. First, we categorized jobless people as “job-seekers,” “jobless people who have a desire to work, but do not seek a job,” and “jobless people who do not desire to work.” Then, we compared the economic and health conditions of jobless people to those of working people.

The study revealed two main findings. First, the proportion of “jobless people who have a desire to work” increased from 2004 to 2010. Compared to job-seekers or working people, these jobless people tended to be single men and married women. Meanwhile, jobless men and women had a desire to work if they were younger and had smaller savings. Second, in 2010, male “jobless people who do not desire to work” were most likely poor or suffering from a mental illness. For women, however, “job-seekers” and “jobless people who have a desire to work” were more likely than those in other categories to be poor or suffering from a mental illness.

In conclusion, we found that being jobless may increase the probability of poverty and mental illness, even if employment is not being sought. Furthermore, we speculated that even if men neither search for jobs nor have a desire to work, they are not necessarily satisfied with their lives as jobless, and therefore they might be socially excluded. However, this is not true for women as Japanese society is based on a strong male-bread-winner model. Therefore, the meaning of being jobless differs for men and women in Japan.