People with full-time jobs tend to have good habits such as healthy eating and lower rates of smoking. The unemployed tend to be at the other end of the spectrum in terms of exemplary health habits. Perhaps a national policy of universal employment would save or lengthen lives.
The new Gallup-Healthways Healthy Behaviors Index puts people without work at a grade of 59.1. Those with full-time jobs score 62.9. People not in the workforce score 66.1, which seems odd until Gallup shows that most of these people are retired — apparently happily.
Among the specific findings of the Gallup survey are that:
Unemployed Americans of all ages are less likely than those employed full or part time and those not in the workforce to report eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables four or more days per week.
Those who are unemployed are 68% more likely to report that they smoke than those who are employed full time or voluntarily part time. Full-time employees and part-time employees not seeking full-time work are also significantly less likely to smoke than are those who work part time but want full-time employment.
Probably no one has done the math, but obesity and smoking cost America tens of billions of dollars a year in terms of health care costs. How does that measure against the costs of government measures to take unemployment from over 8% to 5%? The math is likely to be complicated and the question too controversial for there to be any answer.
Methodology: Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 2, 2011 to May 21, 2012, with a random sample of 474,195 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling. Of this sample, fully employed respondents comprised the majority (51.8%), with about 5% each for part-time employees and the unemployed who are looking for work.
Douglas A. McIntyre