Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 171–178

Labour market conditions, labour force activity and prevalence of psychiatric disorders

  • Geoff Waghorn
  • David Chant
  • Chris Lloyd
  • Meredith G. Harris

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-008-0429-7

Cite this article as:
Waghorn, G., Chant, D., Lloyd, C. et al. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol (2009) 44: 171. doi:10.1007/s00127-008-0429-7



At a population level, the extent that labour market conditions influence labour force activity among people with psychiatric disorders, remains equivocal. Similarly equivocal is the hypothesised relationship between economic conditions and the reported prevalence of specific psychiatric disorders. We investigated these issues by examining the extent that labour market conditions were associated with change in labour force activity among people with anxiety disorders, affective disorders, and schizophrenia, in comparison to healthy working age adults.


Data files were provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) from a population survey conducted in 1998 and replicated in 2003. Multi-stage probability samples were obtained in 1998 (N1 = 37,580) and 2003 (N2 = 36,088). Adults with schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety disorders were compared to healthy working age adults.


Greater labour demand in 2003 was positively associated with increased labour force participation among healthy adults. The proportions actively looking for work declined among healthy adults and among those with anxiety disorders. Full-time employment significantly increased among healthy working age residents. The proportions employed part-time significantly increased in all groups except among people with schizophrenia.


These results support policies which remove disincentives and increase access to the more intensive evidence-based employment programs even when labour market conditions are improving.


psychiatric disorders labour force employment 

Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag Darmstadt 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoff Waghorn
    • 1
  • David Chant
    • 2
  • Chris Lloyd
    • 3
  • Meredith G. Harris
    • 3
  1. 1.Policy and Economics Group, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR), School of Population HealthUniversity of Queensland, The Park, Centre for Mental HealthBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.BrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Population HealthUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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