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The impact of job insecurity on mental health over time across gender and family responsibility
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While there is growing evidence that job insecurity leads to increased mental distress, prior studies have not investigated how gender and parental responsibilities may exacerbate this relationship. Since gender and parental responsibilities may interact with job insecurity to produce unique stressors, examining their contribution as potential effect modifiers may provide insights into gender inequalities in mental health and inform gender-sensitive labour policies to ameliorate the negative effects of job insecurity. Our study addresses this gap by examining the longitudinal association between job insecurity and mental health across different configurations of gender and parental responsibilities using a prospective cohort study design. Our sample includes 34,772 employed participants from the UK Household Longitudinal Study over the period of 2010-2018. A gender-stratified fixed-effect regression was used to model the within-person change over time in mental health functioning associated with loss of job security, and effect modification by parent-partner status (e.g. non-parents, lone mother, partnered father, etc). Loss of job security was associated with a moderate decrease in mental functioning for partnered fathers, partnered mothers, and non-parents ranging between a reduction in MCS-12 by 1.00 to 2.27 points (all significant at p<0.05). Lone fathers who lose their job security experienced a much higher decrease in mental functioning at -7.69 MCS-12 (95% CI: -12.69 to -2.70), while lone mothers did not experience any change. The effects of job insecurity on mental functioning varies across different configurations of gender, parental responsibilities, and partner status. Future studies should investigate the effects of policies that may reduce mental distress in the face of the threat of job loss such as reducing wait time for payment of unemployment benefits or increasing childcare cost coverage in the UK universal credit programme.