From Unemployment to Employment and Back: Professional Trajectories and Well-Being

  • Fabian GanderEmail author
  • Jennifer Hofmann
  • Willibald Ruch


So far, only few studies have considered different aspects of well-being in studying losing or gaining employment. We examined life satisfaction, mental health, and the orientations to pleasure, engagement, and meaning over two years in a large sample of the Swiss labor force (N = 1231). We analyzed four different trajectories: Individuals always being employed, never being employed, those who lost employment, and those who gained employment. Results showed that losing and gaining employment went along with expected changes in life satisfaction and mental health. Additionally, gaining employment went along with increases in the orientations to pleasure, engagement, and meaning while a decrease in the orientation to pleasure was observed in the constantly unemployed. Further, life satisfaction was predictive for gaining employment, mental health problems were predictive for losing employment, and the orientations to pleasure, engagement, and meaning were unrelated to the future employment status. We conclude, in line with earlier studies, that well-being might be an important resource for coping with vulnerabilities and could be used for identifying risk groups with regard to employment status.


Life satisfaction Mental health Orientations to happiness Employment Unemployment 



This publication benefited from the support of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES – Overcoming vulnerability: Life course perspectives, which is financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant number: 51NF40-160590). The authors are grateful to the Swiss National Science Foundation for its financial assistance. The authors state that there are no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright information

© The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) and Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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