Yuki Onuzuka, Jenny Bennett: Social Participation and Unemployment

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Yuki Onozuka, Jenny Bennett (Seminar for Sociology, University of Cologne)

Social Participation and Unemployment
Paper proposed for the conference of the SU-HSE at Moscow, April 6-9 2009

Keywords: Social participation – Unemployment – Resources – Europe – Multi-level analysis

Our study deals with the question which influence unemployment has on social participation. We assume that unemployment has a negative influence on the number of social meetings and activities, as well on the personal feelings of being lonely. In this context we investigate, which role personal, financial and family resources play and if they are able to reduce social isolation as a consequence of unemployment.

The study is based on multi-level analysis of more than twenty European countries taken from the third wave of the European Social Survey. Preliminary results show that the effect of unemployment in all countries is very low. Concerning the degree of social meetings, unemployment has a positive influence in most of the countries. In all countries unemployment negatively influences feelings of loneliness and the number of social activities. Independent from the employment status, personal income and health are the most important resources to increase social participation.

By analysing country level differences, first results show that social participation is a very stable phenomenon in Europe. Furthermore, only 4 to 8 percent of the variance is based on country differences. Our research concerning the influence of the degree of security or the price level in a country leads to limited results. Only feelings of loneliness are negatively influenced by security, while social meetings grow by an increase of price level. Furhtermore we found out that the effect of unemployment on social activities varies across countries. Crosslevel-interactions show, the higher the unemployment rate and social transferpayments for nonworkers are, the more negative is the effect of unemployment. All in all one may conclude that social participation is mainly independent from any personal, family or financial resources, as well from any country level indicators.
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