Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 47, Issue 5, pp 751–758 | Cite as

Unemployment, Parental Distress and Youth Emotional Well-Being: The Moderation Roles of Parent–Youth Relationship and Financial Deprivation

  • Diana Frasquilho
  • Margarida Gaspar de Matos
  • Adilson Marques
  • Fergus G. Neville
  • Tânia Gaspar
  • J. M. Caldas-de-Almeida
Original Article


We investigated, in a sample of 112 unemployed parents of adolescents aged 10–19 years, the links between parental distress and change in youth emotional problems related to parental unemployment, and the moderation roles of parent–youth relationship and financial deprivation. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and correlations. Further, simple moderation, additive moderation, and moderated moderation models of regression were performed to analyze the effects of parental distress, parent–youth relationship and financial deprivation in predicting change in youth emotional problems related to parental unemployment. Results show that parental distress moderated by parent–youth relationship predicted levels of change in youth emotional problems related to parental unemployment. This study provides evidence that during job loss, parental distress is linked to youth emotional well-being and that parent–youth relationships play an important moderation role. This raises the importance of further researching parental distress impacts on youth well-being, especially during periods of high unemployment rates.


Adolescence Mental health Parental unemployment Parent–child relations 



The authors thank Dr. Sharon Leahy from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland for the language proof.


D. Frasquilho receives a grant from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), reference SFRH/BD/80846/2011.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


  1. 1.
    Kalil A (2013) Effects of the great recession on child development. Ann Am Acad Pol Soc Sci 650(1):232–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Solantaus T, Leinonen J, Punamaki RL (2004) Children’s mental health in times of economic recession: replication and extension of the family economic stress model in Finland. Dev Psychol 40(3):412–429CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    WHO (2011) Impact of economic crises on mental health. The Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Wall K et al (2013) As Crianças e a Crise em Portugal: Vozes de Crianças, Políticas Públicas e Indicadores Sociais 2013. ICS UL/UNICEF, LisboaGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Unicef (2013) La infancia en España en 2012–13: El impacto de la crisis en los niños. Retrieved from
  6. 6.
    Kokkevi A, Stavrou M, Kanavou E, Fotiou A (2014) The repercussions of the economic recession in Greece on adolescents and their families. UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pfoertner T-K et al (2014) Adolescents’ psychological health complaints and the economic recession in late 2007: a multilevel study in 31 countries. Eur J Public Health 24(6):961–967CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Viner RM et al (2012) Adolescence and the social determinants of health. Lancet 379(9826):1641–1652CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Reiss F (2013) Socioeconomic inequalities and mental health problems in children and adolescents: a systematic review. Soc Sci Med 90:24–31CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Singh GK, Ghandour RM (2012) Impact of neighborhood social conditions and household socioeconomic status on behavioral problems among US children. Matern Child Health J 16(Suppl 1):S158–S169CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Vine M et al (2012) Associations between household and neighborhood income and anxiety symptoms in young adolescents. Depress Anxiety 29(9):824–832CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Klanšček HJ, Žiberna J, Korošec A, Zurc J, Albreht T (2014) Mental health inequalities in Slovenian 15-year-old adolescents explained by personal social position and family socioeconomic status. Int J Equity Health 13:26CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    McKee-Ryan F, Song Z, Wanberg CR, Kinicki AJ (2005) Psychological and physical well-being during unemployment: a meta-analytic study. J Appl Psychol 90(1):53–76CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Paul KI, Moser K (2009) Unemployment impairs mental health: meta-analyses. J Vocat Behav 74(3):264–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Riumallo-Herl C, Basu S, Stuckler D, Courtin E, Avendano M (2014) Job loss, wealth and depression during the Great Recession in the USA and Europe. Int J Epidemiol 43(5):1508–1517CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    WHO (2014) Social determinants of mental health. World Health Organization and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Conger R, Conger K (2008) Understanding the processes through which economic hardship influences families and children. In: Crane DR, Heaton TB (ed) Handbook of families & poverty. Sage, Thousand Oaks, pp 64–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Reising M et al (2013) Parental depression and economic disadvantage: the role of parenting in associations with internalizing and externalizing symptoms in children and adolescents. J Child Fam Stud 22(3):335–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Borges A, Matos M, Diniz J (2011) Estatuto familiar e autoperceção de saúde nos adolescentes. Temas em Psicologia 19(2):347–360Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Reinhardt Pedersen C, Madsen M, Kohler L (2005) Does financial strain explain the association between children’s morbidity and parental non-employment? J Epidemiol Community Health 59(4):316–321CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sleskova M et al (2006) Does parental unemployment affect adolescents’ health? J Adolesc Health 38(5):527–535CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Varga S, Piko BF, Fitzpatrick KM (2014) Socioeconomic inequalities in mental well-being among Hungarian adolescents: a cross-sectional study. Int J Equity Health 13(1):100CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Kind M, Haisken-DeNew JP (2012) Unexpected victims: How parents’ unemployment affects their children’s life satisfaction. Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. The University of Melbourne, ParkvilleGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Conger K, Rueter M, Conger R (2000) The role of economic pressure in the lives of parents and their adolescents: the family stress model. Negotiating adolescence in times of social change. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Conger R, Conger K, Elder G (1997) Family economic hardship and adolescent adjustment: Mediating and moderating processes. Consequences of growing up poor. Russell Sage Foundation, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Conger RD, Conger KJ (1992) A family process model of economic hardship and adjustment of early adolescent boys. Child Dev 63(3):526CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Amrock SM, Weitzman M (2014) Parental psychological distress and children’s mental health: results of a national survey. Acad Pediatr 14(4):375–381CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Mattejat F, Remschmidt H (2008) The children of mentally ill parents. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International 105(23):413–418PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Weissman MM et al (2006) Remissions in maternal depression and child psychopathology: a STAR*D-child report. JAMA 295(12):1389–1398CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Conger RD, Ge X, Elder GH, Lorenz FO, Simons RL (1994) Economic stress, coercive family process, and developmental problems of adolescents. Child Dev 65(2):541–561CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Broman CL, Hamilton VL, Hoffman WS (1997) The impact of unemployment on families. Mich Family Rev 2(2):83–91Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Baxter J, Gray M, Hand K, Hayes A (2012) Parental joblessness, financial disadvantage and the wellbeing of parents and children. Australian Institute of Family Studies (Occasional paper no 48). Retrieved from
  33. 33.
    Leinonen JA, Solantaus TS, Punamäki R-L (2002) The specific mediating paths between economic hardship and the quality of parenting. Int J Behav Dev 26(5):423–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Leinonen JA, Solantaus TS, Punamäki R-L (2003) Parental mental health and children’s adjustment: the quality of marital interaction and parenting as mediating factors. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 44(2):227–241CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Willemen AM, Schuengel C, Koot HM (2011) Observed interactions indicate protective effects of relationships with parents for referred adolescents. J Res Adolesc 21(3):569–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Bacikova-Sleskova M, Madarasova Geckova A, van Dijk JP, Groothoff JW, Reijneveld SA (2011) Parental support and adolescents’ health in the context of parental employment status. J Adolesc 34(1):141–149CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Cui M, Conger RD (2008) Parenting behavior as mediator and moderator of the association between marital problems and adolescent maladjustment. J Res Adolesc 18(2):261–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Benner AD, Kim SY (2010) Understanding chinese american adolescents’ developmental outcomes: insights from the family stress model. Res Adolesc 20(1):1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Golderberg D, Williams P (1988) A user’s guide to the General Health questionnaire. NFER-Nelson, WindsorGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Laranjeira CA (2008) General health questionnaire-12 items: adaptation study to the Portuguese population. Epidemiol Psichiatr Soc 17(2):148–151PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Benyamini Y (2011) Why does self-rated health predict mortality? An update on current knowledge and a research agenda for psychologists. Psychol Health 26(11):1407–1413CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Muller JJ, Creed PA, Waters LE, Machin MA (2005) The development and preliminary testing of a scale to measure the latent and manifest benefits of employment. Eur J Psychol Assess 21(3):191–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Sousa-Ribeiro MCL, Coimbra JLB (2007) Latent and manifest benefits of work scale (LAMB Scale): Versão portuguesa. ed Porto UdGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Hayes AF (2013) Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: a regression-based approach. The Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Goldberg DP et al (1997) The validity of two versions of the GHQ in the WHO study of mental illness in general health care. Psychol Med 27(1):191–197CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Baxter J, Gray M, Hand K, Hayes A (2012) Parental joblessness, financial disadvantage and the wellbeing of parents and children. Australian Government, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Powdthavee N, Vernoit J (2013) Parental unemployment and children’s happiness: a longitudinal study of young people’s well-being in unemployed households. Labour Econ 24:253–263CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Reeb BT, Conger KJ (2009) The unique effect of paternal depressive symptoms on adolescent functioning: associations with gender and father-adolescent relationship closeness. J Fam Psychol 23(5):758–761CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Paulino ARS, Coimbra JL, Gonçalves CM (2010) Diplomados do ensino superior na transição para o trabalho: vivências e significados. Rev Bras de Orientaç Prof 11:177–188Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Kline RB (2011) Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. The Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Abar C, Jackson K, Colby S, Barnett N (2015) Parent–child discrepancies in reports of parental monitoring and their relationship to adolescent alcohol-related behaviors. J Youth Adolesc 44(9):1688–1701CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Gaspar T, De Matos MG, Batista-Foguet J, Pais Ribeiro JL, Leal I (2010) Parent–child perceptions of quality of life: implications for health intervention. J Family Stud 16(2):143–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Employment and Social Security Portugal (2014) Social security unemployment benefits Portugal: total benefits, unemployment benefit and supplementary unemployment benefit.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana Frasquilho
    • 1
  • Margarida Gaspar de Matos
    • 2
    • 3
  • Adilson Marques
    • 2
  • Fergus G. Neville
    • 4
  • Tânia Gaspar
    • 2
    • 5
  • J. M. Caldas-de-Almeida
    • 6
  1. 1.Nova Medical School and CMDT/IHMTNova University LisbonLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Faculty of Human Kinetics and ISAMBUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.William James Center for ResearchISPALisbonPortugal
  4. 4.School of MedicineUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsScotland, UK
  5. 5.School of PsychologyLusíada UniversityLisbonPortugal
  6. 6.Department of Mental Health, Nova Medical SchoolNova University LisbonLisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations