Skip to main content

Effects of perceived job insecurity on depression, suicide ideation, and decline in self-rated health in Korea: a population-based panel study



To investigate the effects of job security on new development of depressive episode, suicide ideation, and decline in self-rated health.


Data from the Korea Welfare Panel Study from 2012 to 2015 were analysed. A total of 2912 waged workers self-assessed their depressive episode, suicide ideation, and health annually by answering the questionnaire. Participants were divided into three groups according to the level of job security: high, intermediate and low. To evaluate the influence of job security, we performed survival analysis after stratification by gender with adjustment for covariates. The result was further stratified by whether the respondent was the head of household.


After adjusting for covariates, men in low job security group showed significantly higher hazard ratios (HRs) for depression (HR 1.27, 95% CI 1.01–1.60), suicide ideation (HR 3.25, 95% CI 1.72–6.16), and decline in self-rated health (HR 1.73, 95% CI 1.16–2.59). Women showed significantly higher HR of depression in the intermediate (HR 1.37, 95% CI 1.01–1.87) and low (HR 1.50, 95% CI 1.12–1.99) job security group. Male head of household with low job security showed significantly higher HR of depression, suicide ideation, and decline in self-rated health. Non-head-of-household women with intermediate and low job security showed higher risk of depression than those with high job security.


We found that perceived job insecurity is associated with the new development of depressive episode, suicide ideation, and decline in self-rated health.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Artazcoz L, Benach J, Borrell C, Cortès I (2004) Unemployment and mental health: understanding the interactions among gender, family roles, and social class. Am J Public Health 94(1):82–88

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Boya FÖ, Demiral Y, Ergör A, Akvardar Y, Witte HD (2008) Effects of perceived job insecurity on perceived anxiety and depression in nurses. Ind Health 46(6):613–619

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Burgard SA, Brand JE, House JS (2009) Perceived job insecurity and worker health in the United States. Soc Sci Med 69(5):777–785

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chapman DP, Perry GS, Strine TW (2005) The vital link between chronic disease and depressive disorders. Prev Chronic Dis 2(1):A14

    Google Scholar 

  • Cohen S (2005) The Pittsburgh Common Cold Studies: psychosocial predictors of susceptibility to respiratory infectious illness (Keynote Presentation at the 8th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine; Mainz, Germany, August 25–28, 2004). Int J Behav Med 12(3):123

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • De Witte H (2005) Job insecurity: review of the international literature on definitions, prevalence, antecedents and consequences. SA J Ind Psychol 31(4):1–6

    Google Scholar 

  • D’Souza RM, Strazdins L, Lim LL, Broom DH, Rodgers B (2003) Work and health in a contemporary society: demands, control, and insecurity. J Epidemiol Community Health 57(11):849–854

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ferrie JE, Shipley MJ, Marmot MG, Stansfeld S, Smith GD (1998) The health effects of major organisational change and job insecurity. Soc Sci Med 46(2):243–254

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Ferrie JE, Shipley MJ, Stansfeld SA, Marmot MG (2002) Effects of chronic job insecurity and change in job security on self reported health, minor psychiatric morbidity, physiological measures, and health related behaviours in British civil servants: the Whitehall II study. J Epidemiol Community Health 56(6):450–454

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Ferrie JE, Shipley MJ, Newman K, Stansfeld SA, Marmot M (2005) Self-reported job insecurity and health in the Whitehall II study: potential explanations of the relationship. Soc Sci Med 60(7):1593–1602

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hirdes JP, Forbes WF (1993) Factors associated with the maintenance of good self-rated health. J Aging Health 5(1):101–122

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kachi Y, Otsuka T, Kawada T (2014) Precarious employment and the risk of serious psychological distress: a population-based cohort study in Japan. Scand J Work Environ Health 40(5):465–472. doi:10.5271/sjweh.3442

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kang M-Y, Kim H-R (2014) Association between voluntary/involuntary job loss and the development of stroke or cardiovascular disease: a prospective study of middle-aged to older workers in a rapidly developing Asian country. PLoS One 9(11):e113495

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kim TJ, von dem Knesebeck O (2015) Is an insecure job better for health than having no job at all? A systematic review of studies investigating the health-related risks of both job insecurity and unemployment. BMC public health 15(1):1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kim SS, Subramanian S, Sorensen G, Perry MJ, Christiani DC (2012) Association between change in employment status and new-onset depressive symptoms in South Korea—a gender analysis. Scand J Work Environ Health 38(6):537–545. doi:10.5271/sjweh.3286

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kraut A, Walld R (2003) Influence of lack of full-time employment on attempted suicide in Manitoba, Canada. Scand J Work Environ Health 29(1):15–21

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lee H-S, Han K-C, Jeon G-B (2013) Impact on quality of life of single-parent female head of household economic stress. J Korea Contents Assoc 13(3):174–183

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McDonough P (2000) Job insecurity and health. Int J Health Serv 30(3):453–476

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Meltzer H, Bebbington P, Brugha T, Jenkins R, McManus S, Stansfeld S (2010) Job insecurity, socio-economic circumstances and depression. Psychol Med 40(08):1401–1407

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Miller M, Hemenway D, Bell NS, Yore MM, Amoroso PJ (2000) Cigarette smoking and suicide: a prospective study of 300,000 male active-duty army soldiers. Am J Epidemiol 151(11):1060–1063

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Min K-B, Park S-G, Hwang SH, Min J-Y (2015) Precarious employment and the risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Prev Med 71:72–76

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pelfrene E, Vlerick P, Moreau M, Mak RP, Kornitzer M, Backer G (2003) Perceptions of job insecurity and the impact of world market competition as health risks: results from Belstress. J Occup Organ Psychol 76(4):411–425

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Probst TM, Lawler J (2006) Cultural values as moderators of employee reactions to job insecurity: the role of individualism and collectivism. Appl Psychol 55(2):234–254

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rocha C, Hause Crowell J, McCarter AK (2006) Effects of prolonged job insecurity on the psychological well-being of workers. J Soc Soc Welfare 33:9

    Google Scholar 

  • Rugulies R, Aust B, Burr H, Bültmann U (2008) Job insecurity, chances on the labour market and decline in self-rated health in a representative sample of the Danish workforce. J Epidemiol Community Health 62(3):245–250

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Sverke M, Hellgren J, Näswall K (2002) No security: a meta-analysis and review of job insecurity and its consequences. J Occup Health Psychol 7(3):242

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tsutsumi A et al (2009) Application of item response theory to achieve cross-cultural comparability of occupational stress measurement. Int J Methods Psychiatr Res 18(1):58

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Witte HD (1999) Job insecurity and psychological well-being: review of the literature and exploration of some unresolved issues. Eur J Work Organ Psychol 8(2):155–177

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yoo K-B et al (2016) Association between employment status change and depression in Korean adults. BMJ Open 6(3):e008570

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mo-Yeol Kang.

Ethics declarations

Ethical approval

The authors assert that all procedures contributing to this work comply with the ethical standards of the relevant national and institutional committees on human experimentation and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


There was no financial support for this research.

Informed consent

All study participants provided informed consent.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kim, MS., Hong, YC., Yook, JH. et al. Effects of perceived job insecurity on depression, suicide ideation, and decline in self-rated health in Korea: a population-based panel study. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 90, 663–671 (2017).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Job security
  • Depressive mood
  • Korean worker
  • Suicide
  • Mental health