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Do the long-term unemployed adapt to unemployment?

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Author(s): De Witte, Hans | Hooge, Jeannine | Vanbelle,Els

Journal: Romanian Journal of Applied Psychology
ISSN 1454-8062

Volume: 12;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 8;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: long-term unemployment | short-term unemployment | job-seeking behavior | psychological well-being | adaptation | employment commitment

ABSTRACT
The literature on the psychological consequences of unemployment suggests that an adaptation process takes place among the long-term unemployed. Their psychological well-being decreases strongly at the beginning of unemployment, to stabilize at a lower level after a certain time. This stabilization is due to an adaptation process, in which the unemployed decrease their job search behaviors and lower their employment commitment. In this cross-sectional study from Belgium, 563 short-term and 195 long-term unemployed are compared on psychological well-being, the experience of unemployment, employment commitment and job search behavior. The results are in line with the hypothesis of an adaptation process among the long-term unemployed. The short-term unemployed experienced more psychological distress than the long-term unemployed. The short-term unemployed also showed stronger employment commitment and more often applied for jobs. The results of some retrospective questions, in which the respondents had to compare their actual behaviors and well-being with those in the past, suggest that an adaptation process took place. Some policy recommendations are discussed.
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