The Crossover Effects of Job Losses and Unemployment on the Health and Well-Being of Family Members: An Investigation Using Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (METAWELL)

Research question/goal: 

Job losses and unemployment entail significant economic and social consequences, not only for those affected but also for their family members. As a result, a steadily growing number of studies are investigating whether they also have a negative impact on the health and well-being of partners and children. Although this literature now includes more than 90 studies, no attempt has yet been made to systematically describe, integrate, and evaluate the empirical evidence for these crossover effects. Both individual studies and initial literature reviews have been unable to resolve the inconsistencies in empirical findings. Thus, even basic research questions such as the average magnitude of crossover effects, the empirical evidence for different theoretical mechanisms, or the question of differences by gender and social context lack clear answers.

Therefore, the goal of this project is to conduct a comprehensive literature review on crossover effects on partner and child health and well-being, using systematic methods of evidence synthesis. The first objective is to survey the state of research using evidence mapping methods and to classify and describe all empirical studies from the last four decades according to substantive and methodological study characteristics. This will allow us to identify knowledge clusters and gaps in terms of both the number and the quality of studies, which will provide the basis for a cumulative research approach. Building on this, the second goal is to integrate the empirical evidence from comparable studies using qualitative systematic reviews and quantitative meta-analyses. In contrast to previous literature reviews, we will consider all studies and systematically explain different empirical findings by substantive and methodological study characteristics. In this way, hypotheses about the average magnitude of crossover effects, theoretical mechanisms, and gender differences can be tested more reliably. In addition, a new approach is used for cross-national comparisons of crossover effects. By adding characteristics of the societal context, such as the level of welfare state support, from external sources, comparative hypotheses can be examined using a much broader and more variable range of countries than has been possible before.

In this way, the project will improve our theoretical and empirical understanding of crossover effects, their mechanisms, and conditions. This sets the stage for evidence-based policy and practice aimed at reducing health inequalities that arise within families.

Current stage: 

The project is currently being revised to apply for external funding. To this end, we are improving and expanding the initial conceptualization of the studies to be synthesized with systematic reviews and meta-analyses. We also (re-)classify the studies found so far as well as new ones. Special attention is paid to the coding of the concept and the measurement of the dependent variables mental and physical health and well-being in order to demonstrate the comparability of the studies and thus the applicability of systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Fact sheet

2021 to 2023
Data Sources: 
Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of primary studies
Geographic Space: