Layoff Can Damage Trust For Years

A new UK study discovers that people who lose their jobs are less willing to trust others for up to a decade after being laid off.

Researchers from The University of Manchester found that being forced into unemployment can reduce trust to such an extent that distrust persists even after finding new work.

Dr. James Laurence, a social scientist, posits that this means the large-scale job losses of the recent recession could lead to long-term distrust among the public. He also believes the distrust could have a detrimental effect on the fabric of society.

The paper, which explores experiences in the labor market and how they spill over into the wider community, is published in the journal Social Science Research.

Laurence found that being laid off not only makes people less willing to trust others but that this increased distrust and cynicism lasts at least nine years after being forced out of work.

Researchers also found that rather than dissipating over time, an individual can remain distrustful of others even after they find a new job.

“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,” said Laurence.

A troubling finding was the loss of trust after being laid off and the persistence of a non-trusting attitude even after a new job was secured. Researchers say the study shows that being laid-off leaves scars and damages trust.

“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.”

Data was taken from periodic interviews with a cohort of almost 7,000 British adults. Laurence analyzed responses from 1991, when the average age of the study groups was 33-years-old, and 2008, when they were and 50.

At age 50, the probability of expressing trust was 4.5 percent lower among those who had experienced job displacement over the previous 17 years than those who had not. The reduction in trust was seven percent among those for who work forms a key part of their identity and sense of self.

Source: The University of Manchester/EurekAlert