People who lose their jobs are less willing to trust others for up to a decade after being laid-off, according to new research from The University of Manchester.
Social scientist James Laurence discovered that being made redundant or forced into unemployment can scar people’s trust for up to nine years – even after finding a new job.
These implications could lead to a worrying level of long-term distrust among the British public following the large-scale job losses of the recent recession.
Dr Laurence, an economics and social research leader at The University of Manchester, said: “Trauma like redundancy can shift people’s outlook of the world and this change persists long after the experience occurred.
“Even a single experience of redundancy can lead to depressed trust and what is particularly concerning is that people reported less willingness to trust others even after they got another job.
“This has important implications; not just for the person involved but for society as a whole as trust can have significant benefits, from health and happiness, to social cohesion, efficient democratic governance and economic development.”
Dr Laurence’s study examined ‘job displacement’, meaning involuntary job loss from redundancy, downsizing, restructuring, or similar.
He conducted periodic interviews with almost 7,000 British adults who were born in 1958 – focusing on responses from when they were 33 and 50-years-old .
The findings revealed that at age 50, the probability of expressing trust was 4.5% lower amongst those who had experienced job displacement over the previous 17 years than those who had not.
That figure rose to 7% among those for whom work forms a key part of their identity and sense of self.
“The study shows that the experience of redundancy can scar an individual’s trust in others,” Dr Laurence said.
“People’s willingness to trust others tends to remain largely stable over their lifetime.
“Society is still recovering from one of the longest recessions this century and much has been discussed in counting the economic costs of that. This study looks at the social costs of recession”.
Dr Laurence’s paper will be published in Social Science Research later this month.
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