The study by social scientist Dr James Laurence from the University of Manchester found that being made redundant from your job not only makes people less willing to trust others but that this increased distrust and cynicism lasts at least nine years after being forced out of work. It also found that far from dissipating over time, an individual can remain distrustful of others even after they find a new job. “People’s willingness to trust others tends to remain largely stable over their lifetime. However, this work shows that trauma like redundancy can shift people’s outlook of the world and this change persists long after the experience occurred,” said Laurence. “Even a single experience of redundancy can lead to depressed trust and what is particularly concerning is that people reported less willingness to trust others even after they got another job,” said Laurence.
The study examined ‘job displacement’, meaning involuntary job loss from redundancy, downsizing, restructuring, or similar. Data was taken from periodic interviews with a cohort of almost 7,000 British adults. Laurence focused on responses from 1991, when they were 33-years-old, and 2008, when they were and 50, noting whether they had been laid off in the interim years.
At age 50, the probability of expressing trust was 4.5 per cent lower amongst those who had experienced job displacement over the previous 17 years than those who had not. That figure rose to 7 per cent among those for who work forms a key part of their identity and sense of self. The study was published in the journal Social Science Research.