Labour market participation among young adults is essential for their future socioeconomic status and health. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between perceived stress among 20–21 year-olds and their labour market participation 8 years later as well as investigate any potential gender differences.
A cohort of 1640 young adults born in 1983 completed a questionnaire in 2004 in which perceived stress was measured. The cohort was followed in a register of social benefits for 12 months in 2011–2012 and was categorized into active and passive labour market participation. Logistic regression was used to analyse the association between perceived stress and future labour market participation, taking into account effects of potential confounders. The analyses were stratified by gender.
The effects of perceived stress on future labour market participation differed significantly among young women and young men (p = 0.029). For young men, higher levels of perceived stress reduced the risk of future passive labour market participation, when adjusting for socioeconomic factors, self-rated health and copings strategies (p = 0.045). For young women, higher levels of perceived stress increased the risk of future passive labour market participation, when adjusting for the same potential confounding factors, although unlike the men, this association was not statistically significant (p = 0.335).
The observed gender difference has important implications from a public health point of view. Healthcare professionals might need to differentiate between the genders in terms of health communication, research and when developing preventive strategies.