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The impact of the 2008 financial crisis on psychological work stress among financial workers and lawyers

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The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of the financial crisis on psychological work stress among financial workers and lawyers.


The Chinese versions of Karasek’s job content questionnaire (C-JCQ) and Siegrist’s ERI questionnaire (C-ERI) were used to measure work stress, and the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (C–CBI) questionnaire was used to measure personal and work-related burnout for 38 financial workers and 97 lawyers before and after the financial crisis in 2008. A paired t test was used to compare changes in work stress and burnout. A logistic regression was performed to determine the association between psychosocial work stress and burnout.


After the financial crisis, financial workers reported significantly higher stress from fear of layoffs, increased experiences of undesirable changes and more fear of making mistakes during work. On the contrary, lawyers reported significantly higher scores of reward, fewer psychological demands and less exhaustion. In addition to high psychological demand and a high effort–reward ratio, high effort, over-commitment and stress of layoffs also contributed to personal and work-related burnout after the financial crisis. After the financial crisis, lawyers’ personal burnout decreased with the increase of reward, and their work-related burnout decreased with the decrease in psychological demand.


The financial crisis has an unequal psychological impact on financial workers and lawyers. Financial workers’ psychosocial work stress and burnout were aggravated, while lawyers’ psychosocial work stress and burnout were alleviated.

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Correspondence to Chang-Chuan Chan.

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Tsai, FJ., Chan, CC. The impact of the 2008 financial crisis on psychological work stress among financial workers and lawyers. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 84, 445–452 (2011).

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