COVID-19 and unemployment's affects on future health - Burgard

May 25, 2021

In a recent opinion piece published in The Conversation, co-authored with with Jennie Brand, Sarah Burgard, professor of sociology, public policy and epidemiology, called attention to the long-term health effects of COVID-19 — but not just effects from the virus. Burgard discussed how the high level of unemployment will cause future health issues. 

"As researchers who study the health effects of job loss and unemployment, we see many reasons to worry that the next wave of health problems linked to COVID-19 will not come directly from the virus itself, or the strain it places on health systems, but its effect on the labor market," the pair wrote.

They go on to explain how job loss can cause increased stress and loss of health insurance. When people don't have access to affordable health care, they may not seek medical attention when necessary, creating worse health outcomes. To tie it all together, the authors point out research on a possible association of unemployment with worse long-term health and well-being. 

Putting the situation into context with COVID-19, Brand and Burgard discuss the economic and social consequences the pandemic has had, calling for more support of the unemployed, including higher wages and health insurance. 

"The real solution lies in not just getting back to work, but getting Americans into secure jobs that pay a living wage and allow economic recovery alongside the healing of people and health care systems," Brand and Burgard wrote.

This opinion piece was originally published in The Conversation. Read it here.