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For Immediate Release
March 18, 2010

Contact: Todd Kluss
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(202) 587-2839

Looming Unemployment Harms Older Workers’ Health

Downsizing and demotions at the workplace can be a health hazard for people over age 50, according to research reported in a recent issue of The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences (Volume 65B, Number 1).

A team of researchers found that job insecurity increased the chance of harmful effects for a sample of older workers in Cook County, IL. Over time, men reacted with greater physical symptoms, while changes in psychological health were more prominent in women.

“Older adults in the United States are living longer and working harder,” said lead author Ariel Kalil, PhD, a professor at the University of Chicago. “Increased exposure to the labor market brings increased exposure to employment challenges.”

The new findings are based on a study of approximately 200 residents of Cook County aged 50 to 67. The participants were considered to have experienced job insecurity if they reported that they were disciplined or demoted at work or if their employer downsized or reorganized.

Job insecurity was not associated with health outcomes for all individuals uniformly. After a period of two years, the men who had faced job insecurity were more likely to experience poorer self-rated health, higher blood pressure, and higher levels of epinephrine (a stress-induced hormone). When faced with the same workplace conditions, women showed higher levels of hostility, loneliness, and depressive symptoms.

The researchers chose to focus on older workers for several reasons. People aged 55 and older have experienced strong growth in the labor market over the past 20 years — a trend expected to continue in the decade ahead. Additionally, a 2007 AARP study found that a full 70 percent of working adults between 45 and 74 years old planned to work during retirement or to never retire at all.

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The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences is a refereed publication of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,200+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.

Click here for a printable PDF version of this press release.

Mildred M. Seltzer Distinguished Service Recognition

Presented to C. Joanne Grabinski, PhD, Eastern Michigan University, and Mary Alice Wolf, PhD, Saint Joseph University.

This award honors colleagues who are near retirement or recently retired. Recipients are individuals who have been actively involved in AGHE through service on committees, as elected officers, and/or have provided leadership in one of AGHE’s grant-funded projects.

Administrative Leadership Award

Presented to Tammy M. Bray, PhD, Oregon State University

This award honors administrators on AGHE member campuses who have made exceptional efforts in support of gerontology or geriatrics education.

David A. Peterson Gerontology & Geriatrics Education Best Paper of the Volume Award

Presented to Nina M. Silverstein, PhD, University of Massachusetts Boston; Elizabeth Johns, MS, University of Massachusetts Boston; and Judith A. Griffin, MA, MS, University of Massachusetts Boston, for the article “Students Explore Livable Communities.” Honorable mention is given to Emily J. Robbins, MS, Miami University; Jennifer M. Kinney, PhD, Miami University; and Cary S. Kart, PhD, Miami University, for the article “Promoting Active Engagement in Health Research: Lessons Learned from an Undergraduate Gerontology Capstone Course.”

The purpose of this award is to recognize excellence in scholarship in academic gerontology in AGHE’s official journal, Gerontology & Geriatrics Education.

Graduate Student Paper Award

Presented to Deborah Gray, MBA, University of Massachusetts Boston, for the paper “Weight and Wealth: The Relationship between Obesity and Net Worth for Pre-Retirement Age Men and Women.”

This award acknowledges excellence in scholarly work conducted by an AGHE Annual Meeting student attendee.

Book Award for Best Children’s Literature on Aging

Presented to Caitlin Dale Nicholson and Leona Morinn-Nelson for “Niwechihaw/I help” in the primary reader (pre-K to 2nd grade) category, and Ann Grifalconi and Jerry Pickney for “Ain’t Nobody A Stranger to Me” in the elementary reader (3rd to 5th grade) category.

This award recognizes portrayals of meaningful aging in children’s literature.