Ontogenetic Conditionality of Unemployment


Background:
Previous unemployment studies mostly dealt with unemployment's economic causes and consequences. Hidden causes of male unemployment, independent from socio-economic circumstances of a society, could consist, besides others, in natural biological factors - family experience during childhood. Theoretical background of our study included the concept of psychical deprivation, the concept of human ontogenesis developmental stages of E. Erikson and knowledge of biodromal psychology. Using data from the European Longitudinal Study of Parenthood and Childhood international project we compared groups of employed and unemployed men by means of a retrospective survey and we studied the following: 1. What differences there were in their childhoods; 2. To what extent educational approaches transfer from parents to their children; 3. What influence has negative experience from childhood on the future assertion of men in the labor market.

Methods and results:
The survey set consisted of 3141 (88.7 %) employed men and 399 (11.3 %) unemployed men in 1991-1992. Basic research data were acquired by means of questionnaires. Relative risk was used to compare the groups of the employed and the unemployed. The employed men are more likely to be from complete families then the unemployed men. The unemployed men, in comparison to the employed men, 2.08 times more frequently spent their childhood in orphanages, children's villages or in foster families, 3.89 times more frequently attended special schools, 2.22 times more frequently lived away from home until the age of 18 and 2.51 times more frequently lived in detention centers or in diagnostic institutes until the age of 18 (p<0.001). 66.6% of the employed men and 65.1% of the unemployed men were psychically and physically abused in their childhood.

Conclusion:
Consequences of negative experience from childhood decrease the chances of inclusion of young men into the labor market. Social roles of young men (future fathers) could also be distorted by such experience. Social integration and social success rate of the unemployed men group therefore develops in an unfavorable direction.

KEYWORDS:
Unemployment, longitudinal study, childhood, risk factors, family


Authors: Božena Buchtováa ;  Josef Šmajsa ;  Viktor Kulhavýa ;  Petr Okrajekb ;  Lubomír Kuklac
Authors place of work: Department of Corporate Economy, Faculty of Economics and Administration, Masaryk University
Published in the journal: Čas. Lék. čes. 2009; : 68-73
Category:

Summary

Background:
Previous unemployment studies mostly dealt with unemployment's economic causes and consequences. Hidden causes of male unemployment, independent from socio-economic circumstances of a society, could consist, besides others, in natural biological factors - family experience during childhood. Theoretical background of our study included the concept of psychical deprivation, the concept of human ontogenesis developmental stages of E. Erikson and knowledge of biodromal psychology. Using data from the European Longitudinal Study of Parenthood and Childhood international project we compared groups of employed and unemployed men by means of a retrospective survey and we studied the following: 1. What differences there were in their childhoods; 2. To what extent educational approaches transfer from parents to their children; 3. What influence has negative experience from childhood on the future assertion of men in the labor market.

Methods and results:
The survey set consisted of 3141 (88.7 %) employed men and 399 (11.3 %) unemployed men in 1991-1992. Basic research data were acquired by means of questionnaires. Relative risk was used to compare the groups of the employed and the unemployed. The employed men are more likely to be from complete families then the unemployed men. The unemployed men, in comparison to the employed men, 2.08 times more frequently spent their childhood in orphanages, children's villages or in foster families, 3.89 times more frequently attended special schools, 2.22 times more frequently lived away from home until the age of 18 and 2.51 times more frequently lived in detention centers or in diagnostic institutes until the age of 18 (p<0.001). 66.6% of the employed men and 65.1% of the unemployed men were psychically and physically abused in their childhood.

Conclusion:
Consequences of negative experience from childhood decrease the chances of inclusion of young men into the labor market. Social roles of young men (future fathers) could also be distorted by such experience. Social integration and social success rate of the unemployed men group therefore develops in an unfavorable direction.

KEYWORDS:
Unemployment, longitudinal study, childhood, risk factors, family

INTRODUCTION

Unemployment is an unexpectedly pressing problem of our times (1) and it has economic, social, psychological and health-related consequences. Unemployment in the Czech society features several typical characteristics after twenty years of economic transformation, such as: 1. High share of the long-term unemployed (1/5 of all the Czech unemployed are registered in labor offices for more then two years); 2. High unemployment rates among younger age groups and school leavers; 3. Regional differences among unemployment rates; 4. Stabilization of population groups that live off social benefits on a long-term basis (people older then 50 years, handicapped people, young people, mothers with small children, Gypsy population); 5. Dependence of a majority of households on social benefits and a partial disappearance of children's understanding for a connection between labor and financial reward.

Our previous deliberations and research works in the field of unemployment were focused on both biomedical and psychological consequences of labor loss and on the general cultural context.

(2, 3, 4). We have noted that coping with involuntary unemployment is of rather an individual nature and it is conditioned by a number of factors - resistance of the particular person to psychical burden, age, sex, qualification, financial resources of the unemployed, meaningful personal activity during one's own leisure time, unemployment length, previous labor experience, professional rigidity or flexibility, personal analysis of the job loss causes, received social and emotional support, regional unemployment rate and other factors (3).

Information about the unemployed in the transformed Czech economy, especially the impact of job loss on health, is quite identical with information from countries with similar historical experience and from countries with developed market economies (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14).

Assertion of a person in the labor market is conditioned by a number of his/her characteristics (age, health condition, education, sex, membership in an ethnic group) that subsequently integrate groups of people with higher risks of becoming unemployed and predetermine them for long-term unemployment. These groups are also exposed to the risk of cyclical unemployment. Members of these groups find their places mostly in the secondary labor market and in poorly paid jobs with uncertain future. Unemployment is therefore a greater threat to specific population groups and this has been confirmed by experience from almost all countries with market economies (15, 6, 16, 12). It is clear that labor policies have to be focused on these very groups.

Pieces of knowledge from our research (4) show that in a family life the neurotic problems could sometimes transfer from the unemployed to the employed partner. They can even transfer to children and result in family life disturbances (dysfunctional behavior). If two family members are unemployed, and this was a frequent case discovered by our regional surveys, the stresses affecting the family usually multiply.

TARGETS AND STARTING POINTS OF THE STUDY

We are currently working on a study, which strives, using data from the ELSPAC (European Longitudinal Study of Parenthood and Childhood)[1] international project, to study the impacts of job loss on the socioeconomic, psychosomatic and health indicators of individuals' lives and their families, including their lives in partnerships and relationships with children. Data from the longitudinal survey (starting from the beginning of the 1990s until present) make it possible to study the phenomenon of unemployment in the long run. In the first stage we focused on a retrospective survey in the adult population of men - prospective fathers. This research started with sheer curiosity about the differences between groups of employed and unemployed men (future fathers). We started to compare these two groups and focused on the following: 1. What differences there were in their childhoods, what were their parents like; 2. To what extent the behavior of parents and upbringing methods transfer to children; 3. What influence has negative experience from problematic childhood on the future assertion in the labor market.

We have not come across studies of similar character in expert literature. In a longitudinal study of British men born in 1958 the authors (17) analyzed the relationship between psychical and physical health in childhood and long-term unemployment in adulthood (lasting over one year). Conclusions of this research draw attention to the fact that the long-term unemployed men are more likely to have accumulated a risk of aggravating health, which is, among others, a consequence of a slower growth in childhood and higher tendency to maladjustment.  

Another study claims that absence of high-school education, poor reading skills, low IQ values and limited resources on the parents' side significantly increase the unemployment risk in the field of human capital (18). Growing up in an incomplete family, family conflicts and poor relationship with school increase the risk of unemployment in the field of social capital. Children demonstrating antisocial behavior face higher risk of unemployment in the field of personal capital. These unemployment predictors, rooted in childhood, started to influence the future success of these young people in the labor market many years before they joined it.

We still consider as current and important the work of Czech authors (19), who investigated late consequences of psychical deprivation. They reached the conclusion that there is a relationship between the deprivation state of a child and a later development of his/her personality, which adversely shows especially in the field of social integration and social success. They arrived, though, to a significant differentiation among living condition influences in childhood according to the sex of the monitored persons.

Two developmental concepts of personalities have become the theoretical bases of our studies, in accordance with the Prague study (20, s. 482):

  • A concept of psychical deprivation, which is based on the theory of basic (vital) psychical needs, satisfaction of which in a sufficient scope and at the right time is one of the elemental conditions for subsequent healthy development of a personality (21, 22, 23, 24).
  • Erikson's developmental concept (25), which is based on the assumption that there are several critical phases in human development and each of these phases has its own characteristics, tasks and difficulties. Especially the first phases of life are, according to our research works, crucial periods for a successful mastering of all subsequent phases; generally, we can accept the Erikson's assumption that a failure to master or fulfill one developmental phase threatens the satisfactory mastering of subsequent phases.

Biodromal psychology (26) has presented a finding that consequences of a good or bad way of living through a specific life stage could influence the quality of all future life. This is in accordance with the above-quoted study (23), whose authors demonstrate that psychical deprivation in early age could, under certain circumstances, show in the whole future life and that any "deprivation deviation from the natural and inherent standard is difficult, threatening and dangerous" (27, s. 372).

It is the aim of our study to contribute to the deeper understanding of the personality development of adult fathers who failed to find their places in the labor market and became unemployed.  

METHOD

Respondents, survey process and tools

Our study is based on data from the ELSPAC project. The original file was acquired in two phases - the first one was realized in the middle period of pregnancy, when pregnant women with expected dates of delivery between March 1, 1991 and June 30, 1992 were gradually contacted. All women with permanent residences in the Brno-město and Znojmo districts were contacted and asked to participate in the research. Unfortunately, due to objective reasons, it was impossible to acquire all respondents - pregnant women - during the prenatal phase of the project. It was our goal to acquire at least all mothers from the particular period and with the particular permanent residences, even when they did not give birth in Brno or Znojmo but in other maternity hospitals. This phase was successful, the base file was comprehensive and we even managed to acquire information about births in foreign countries. A representativeness study was performed for several survey phases investigating age, sex, employment, marital status and education and validity of these elements was confirmed (when compared with ÚZIS and ČSÚ data).

The prenatal phase of the project, from which our data come from, was implemented in 1991-1992. From the total set of 4,633 men of the Brno ELSPAC study 3,540 fathers replied to the question about their state of employment. This number is considered to be the basic value (100%). Thereof a positive reply, i.e. that they were employed, came from 3,141 men (88.7%, average age 27.96 years) and 399 men were unemployed (11.3%, average age 23.94 years).

Basic research data were acquired by means of questionnaires mailed to the families along with two questionnaires for mothers in the middle of their pregnancy periods. These questionnaires were designated as P3 (prenatal).

The questionnaires were mailed along with an explanatory letter within the ELSPAC project. By filling in the questionnaire the respondent also expressed his/her consent with the participation in the project. The respondents were also informed that they could revoke this consent at any time (see informed consent). If a family failed to return the questionnaires in a reply envelope within a month or did not express their unwillingness or inability to participate, they were mailed a written reminder. If a family failed to react even to this reminder, they were contacted personally by a field worker who tried to persuade them to participate. This method of acquiring respondents was used also in other countries within the ELSPAC project.

For a list of sections that were investigated in the questionnaire see Table 2. The following sections were investigated in the questionnaire:

  • Socioeconomic data: age, education, family status, income, current or previous employment, its length, number of previous employments, satisfaction with work position in the company, accommodation situation, household and its equipment, etc.
  • Psychological data: psychical problems, personality disorders, neurotic symptoms, depressions, self-evaluation, life satisfaction, quality of life, etc.
  • Health: sickness rate, psychosomatics, drug abuse, residential medical treatment rate, accident rate, etc.
  • Partner and family relations: quality of partner life, problems and conflicts within the relationship, quality of family relations, etc.
  • Relations with children: means of upbringing, time spent with children, problems with children, etc.
  • Life style: nutrition, boarding, smoking, alcohol, physical activity, sleep, etc.
  • Life events

In our survey we have primarily focused on 4 fields (A, C, D, F), which are specifically related to the childhood period of the employed and the unemployed men: The field of health anamnesis (section A), events from childhood, school attendance (section C), relationships between parents and children, care for the child and upbringing (section D) and the current education and employment (section F).

Analysis methods

We have performed a descriptive analysis of all variables and Risk Estimate was used to compare the groups of the employed and the unemployed men. We have tested the zero hypothesis about the independence of two nominal values at the significance level of 0.05. If the p-value of the chi-squared test was <0.05 then we rejected the zero hypothesis, i.e. there was a dependency between the variables. If this was a four-field table then we considered the p-value of the Fisher's exact test for the significance evaluation. If a statistically significant dependence was demonstrated, the results were evaluated using the RR (Relative Risk). Calculations were performed by means of the IBM SPSS Statistics 19 statistical program kit.

RESULTS

1. Preliminary analyses: Descriptive statistics

First we divided the set into a group of the employed and the group of the unemployed men, see Table 1. Differences between the employed and the unemployed men were found in age, education and complete/incomplete families. The average age of the employed, in comparison with the unemployed (p < 0.001), is significantly higher by 4 years. The unemployed men are 2.6 times more likely to have elementary education then the employed (p < 0.001) and they are 1.32 times more likely to have finished secondary education (school leaving examination) (p < 0.001). The employed men are 1.44 times more likely to have university education (p < 0.001) and they are 1.24 times more likely to have apprenticeship training (p < 0.001) in comparison with the unemployed men. The unemployed men are significantly more likely to have university-educated mothers then the employed (p < 0.001). The employed men are significantly more likely to come from complex families then the unemployed (p < 0.001). No significant differences were found in the other variables.

Table 1. Respondent sample description

Variable

Employed (N= 3141)

Unemployed (N= 399)

sig

Mean age

27.96

23.94

***

Education of the men

 

   Elementary

4 %

10.4 %

***

   Apprenticeship

36.2 %

29.1 %

***

   Secondary school

30.6 %

40.3 %

***

   University

29.2 %

20.3 %

***

Length of unemployment (mean value)

-

9.6 months

Complete/incomplete family

89.9 %/10.1 %

75.5 %/24.5 %

***

Parent education - M/F

 

   Elementary

22.9 %/8.4 %

18.1 %/8.4  %

ns

   Apprenticeship

39.2 %/46.0 %

37.7 %/39.3 %

ns

   Secondary school

29.6 %/24.7 %

28.8 %/26.5 %

ns

   University

8.4 %/21.0 %

15.5 %/25.8 %

***M

* p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001, ns = not significant, % from the number of the employed/unemployed, M - mother

Table 2 presents the investigated parts of the questionnaire and examples of questionnaire items. Sections A, C, D and F were used for our investigation. Tables 3 and 4 below present significant results of the studied differences between the employed and the unemployed men.

In several items, for example in section D, there are 4 variables related to physical or psychical abuse. If at least one of the four presented questions (see Table 4) was replied affirmatively then we suppose that there occurred an abuse of the child (father), otherwise there didn't occur any abuse of the child (father).

Table 2. Questionnaire structure

Section name

Item example

A) Your health anamnesis

Have you ever had diabetes?

B) Your partner

Are you the father of the unborn child of your partner? 

C) Your childhood

Have you ever been sexually abused?

D) You and your parents

Have you ever been beaten by a belt, stick or anything similar?

E) Your family and friends

How many members of your family and how many friends would lend you CZK 1000 if you needed the money?

F) Education and employment

What is your current employment situation?

G) Your opinions and life attitudes

Did you mostly have the feeling that any effort at school was almost useless since most of the other children were smarter then you?

H) Your reaction to the impending pregnancy

How would you describe your reaction when you first learned that your partner was pregnant?

I) Your activities and life style

Have you regularly smoked in the course of the past 9 months?

J) Recent events

Have you had any conflict with the law?

K) Your feelings

Do you sometimes have a feeling of panic?

L) You are becoming a parent

Small children should be fed whenever they are hungry.

M) Nutrition of the child

Breast feeding establishes a special relationship between the mother and the child.

2. Main analysis

2. 1. Comparison between the employed and the unemployed men in selected variables

Table 3 presents a comparison between the employed and the unemployed men from the viewpoint of family relationships and from the viewpoint of upbringing and school attendance. The results indicate that the unemployed men, in comparison to the employed men, come from families where the parents had serious disagreements (1.22 times more frequently, p < 0.01), divorced (1.25 times more frequently, p < 0.001) and left the marriage in the course of its duration (1.47 times more frequently, p < 0.001). The unemployed men, in comparison to the employed men, 3.89 times more frequently attended a special school (p < 0.001) or attended multiple schools - more then 4 schools (1.82 times more frequently, p < 0.001), missed school more frequently before the age of 11 (1.45 times more frequently, p < 0.001) and also after the age of 11 (1.67 times more frequently, p < 0.001), especially due to truancy (1.53 times more frequently, p < 0.001). The unemployed men were 1.48 times more frequently excluded from school then the employed men (p < 0.001).

The unemployed men were also 2.08 times more frequently in the care of a foster family, orphanage, etc. (p < 0.001). The unemployed men, in comparison to the employed men, lived 2.83 times more frequently in orphanages (p < 0.001) and 2.51 times more frequently in correction or diagnostic institutes (p < 0.001). In comparison to the employed men they 1.56 times more frequently left homes before the age of 18 (p < 0.001), 1.73 times more frequently lived somewhere else then at home with friends (p < 0.001) or with grandparents (1.37 times more frequently, p < 0.001). They were 2.64 times more frequently brought up by a family friend (p < 0.001) or some other person (2.36 times more frequently, p < 0.001).

Table 3. Comparison between the unemployed and the employed in family relationships, upbringing and school attendance

 

Employed (N= 3141)

Unemployed (N= 399)

Variable/Item

RR

95% CI

lower

95% CI upper

Number of respondents

Childhood events, parental relationships

 

Have you ever been seriously injured?

1.29

1.02

1.62

3485

Have you ever had problems with the police?

1.47

1.17

1.84

3477

Did any of your parents leave the family?

1.41

1.14

1.73

3472

Did your parents divorce?

1.25

1.02

1.53

3483

Did your parents have serious disagreements?

1.22

1.04

1.42

3480

 Did your parents divorce or live separately before you reached the age of 18?

1.34

1.11

1.61

3503

School

 

Have you ever been excluded from school or have you interrupted your studies?

1.48

1.05

2.07

3477

Were you frequently missing at school? Before the age of 11.

1.45

1.12

1.89

3504

Were you frequently missing at school? After the age of 11.

1.67

1.32

2.10

3503

What were the reasons for your truancy?

1.53

1.14

2.04

593

Did you attend a special school?

3.89

1.76

8.60

3459

Did you attend a specialized school?

1.46

1.13

1.88

3473

Child care and upbringing

 

Have you ever been in the care of an orphanage, children's village, foster parents, a foster family, etc.?

2.08

1.19

3.64

3429

Did you live away from your home before the age of 18 (besides holidays and short visits) with your grandparents?

1.37

1.02

1.83

3265

Did you live away from home before the age of 18

 (except for holidays or short visits) with friends?

2.22

1.21

4.07

3239

Did you live away from home before the age of 18

 (except for holidays or short visits) with other people?

1.73

1.08

2.77

3240

Did you live away from home before the age of 18

 in one of the specified institutions - orphanage?

2.83

1.48

5.44

3384

Did you live away from home before the age of 18 in one of the following places: a correction facility, diagnostic institute?

2.51

1.20

5.29

3386

Did you ever leave home before the age of 18?

1.56

1.21

2.01

3489

Who would you specify as the person that brought you up? Family friend

2.64

1.19

5.83

3386

Who would you specify as the person that brought you up? Another person

2.36

1.50

3.72

3387

My mother provided me with as much freedom as I wanted

1.13

1.02

1.25

3352

She let me go out as frequently as I wanted

1.13

1.02

1.25

3348

Table 4 shows the differences between the employed and the unemployed from the viewpoint of physical and psychical abuse and sexual abuse. Out of the total number of the employed and the unemployed men 66.5% replied "yes" to at least one of the first four questions listed in Table 4, indicating that they were somehow abused, and 33.5% were not. Differences between the employed and the unemployed men were not significant. The unemployed men, though, are 1.52 times more likely to declare that their parents (p < 0.001) treated them cruelly. You can see significant differences also in the field of sexual abuse. The unemployed men are 2.53 times more likely to declare then the employed men that they had sexual incidents (p < 0.001) with the participation of a parent or another relative. The unemployed men were also raped 4.44 times more frequently then the employed men (p < 0.001).

Table 4. Comparison between the unemployed and the employed men in the field of abuse and sexual abuse

Variable/Item

Employed (N= 3141)

Unemployed (N= 399)

 

RR

95% CI

lower

95% CI

upper

upper

Number of respondents

Physical abuse

 

Have you ever been beaten by a belt, stick or anything similar?

0.98a

0.87a

1.08a

3109

Psychical abuse

 

Has any of your parents been cruel to you?

1.52

1.10

2.08

3480

Have you ever been punished by being locked in a room?

0.96a

0.71a

1.29a

3051

Have you ever been threatened by somebody (e.g. unless you do this, I will send you away, I will sell you away, etc.)?

1.13a

0.95a

1.35a

3061

Sexual abuse

 

Has an older relative, family friend or a stranger caressingly touched your body, including breasts or sexual organs, or has such a person attempted to sexually arouse you without your understanding or agreement?

1.79

1.01

3.17

3262

Has anybody had a sexual intercourse with you without your understanding or agreement?

4.44

1.88

10.52

3256

Have you experienced any other sexual events with the participation of a relative,

family friend or a stranger without your understanding or agreement?

2.53

1.292

4.95

3270

Note: The results in Table are accompanied by index a in case of insignificant RR results.

DISCUSSION

Consequences of childhood spent away from home

The results of our investigation imply that the unemployed fathers have significantly more frequently spent their childhoods in the care of orphanages, children's villages and foster families. The mean age of our jobless fathers was 23.94 years. The longitudinal study (20) investigated late consequences of psychical deprivation and subdeprivation in children from orphanages when in their 40s. The authors (20) found that in a rather high percentage of persons who grew up under non-standard, less fortunate socioeconomic conditions, there was found increased vulnerability of their nervous system in their early age, at the time of entering these facilities; the neurological status was normal only in one half of the children. And these individuals are those with the highest exposure to the psychical deprivation influence.

The depth of the primary threat by psychical deprivation (or subdeprivation) and the intensity of the subsequent assistance or therapeutic measures are categorized by the above-mentioned authors (20) according to specific facilities: 1. Children from orphanages; 2. Children from children's villages: 3. Children from foster care.

Fulfillment of social demands, to which these individuals are later exposed in the early adult age (our group of respondents), is burdened by the late consequences of the psychical deprivation. Our group of fathers without jobs has developed in an unfortunate direction (see Table 3) in the field of social integration and social success.  It turns out that the orphanage environment takes a ranking place when considering the threat to the child by deprivation and later consequences in adulthood.

Our respondents - the unemployed fathers - experienced their childhoods during the period between 1965 and 1970. The environment of the nursing homes for abandoned babies and orphanages in the Czech Republic was then the environment of classic collective upbringing institutes (23). The institute system was differentiated by age and therefore the monitored persons must have changed their environment several times during their childhoods. The groups inside the institutes were also differentiated by age and the carers took their turns according to their working hours. The environment of these institutes was characterized by large bedrooms, dining rooms, play rooms and by rigidly organized daily program. After finishing the compulsory full-time schooling the child left for a boarding establishment and (after finishing or not finishing a practical school) it left "for life".

There are currently measures under discussion in the Czech Republic that would result in the dissolution of the institutes for children and transfer these children into foster care. We agree, though, with experts who draw attention to the absence of professional foster parents and to the resulting risks during the upbringing of these children. A significant number of visible and hidden homeless people come from orphanages (about 30,000 homeless people are estimated to live in the Czech Republic in 2013). Upon reaching the age of 18 these young people enter society unprepared for independence, without qualification, without any material resources and without work habits and they frequently join various gangs where they are abused and blackmailed.

Consequences of family breakups

Our research has demonstrated that the unemployed fathers, in comparison to the employed ones, more frequently lived in families, where their parents experienced: serious disagreements or they separated or divorced. At the time of their divorce our respondents - the unemployed fathers - were 9.69 years old on average.

And the unemployed fathers spent their childhood, in comparison to the employed ones, more frequently in the care of orphanages, children's villages or foster families.

Authors of important studies (28, 29, 30, 31, 32) point out that a divorce of parents is a traumatizing event with negative consequences for both parents and children and these consequences persist until adulthood. A parental conflict exposes children to psychical burden, which immediately shows in the deterioration of psychical and somatic health and in the general prosperity of the child and in a longer run it influences the behavior and development of their personalities (33). Deficient cooperation between parents after divorce (post-divorce legal disputes) is connected with adaptation defects, low self-esteem and behavior defects in the children (34, 35, 36, 37).

If a child witnesses family violence (38), then his/her psychical state is even more threatened and even a single such experience can cause a trauma with long-term consequences (39).

Any exposure of a child to physical violence or physical abuse is considered to be a negative experience threatening good adaptation in adulthood. Witnessing frequent verbal conflicts seems to be less harmful then poor care during childhood (40).  Boys, in comparison to girls, are psychically more vulnerable during parental divorce disputes and personality of the mother is significantly related to setting children against the other parent; it influences their participation in disputes (41; also 42). Inclusion of children in the disputes is, in case of boys, related to the psychopathology of their mothers. Presence of childhood physical violence is related to the quality of the father's personality and his eventual psychopathology.

Almost a half of children from divorced families in the Czech Republic show the Parental Alienation Syndrome, which was defined by R. A. Gardner in the 1980s as "children's sickness which almost exclusively shows during disputes for child care". Disputes concerning children frequently disintegrate the good, loving parent. Alternating and unilateral preferring and repudiating of parents by the child accompany all of his/her childhood and abates only when the child becomes adult and is able to independently evaluate the situation [2].

We have found that experiencing family conflicts in childhood has negatively shown in the adulthood of the investigated unemployed fathers.  It turns out that our sample of respondents - the unemployed fathers - seems to "copy" their own parents. The unemployed fathers, in comparison to the employed ones, more frequently argue with their partners, more frequently split with their partners, more frequently live single and more frequently marry repeatedly. Out of the total number of 396 unemployed fathers 75.5 % lived in complete families and 24.5% lived in incomplete families, in comparison to the employed fathers. And these are unemployed men, impending fathers of the investigated children (the ELSPAC study), many of whom have had negative experience with the partnership quality of their own parents. Even though parents influence the health state and success rate of their children not only through their behavior and upbringing but also though genetically transferred dispositions, we have arrived to a conclusion that pathology of mental health and adaptation disorders, as a consequence of negatively experienced childhood, can be anticipated in adulthood. 

Consequences of psychical and physical abuse in childhood

Our research has also revealed another serious fact - over a half of both the employed and the unemployed men were psychically and physically abused during childhood. Within this context we are referring to the study of Brno-based authors (44), who used the same retrospective survey of men - impending fathers of the children studied as a part of the ELSPAC longitudinal study. The authors compared a group of men abused in childhood with a group of non-abused men (we added the viewpoint of employment/unemployment) and studied (in line with us) the following: 1. What were the differences in the families considering their origins (grandparents), parents and themselves; 2. Whether there later showed any differences in their own families, relationships, behaviors and health conditions; 3. To what extent are upbringing models transferred from one generation to another. For the frequencies of occurrence related to psychical and physical abuse see Table 4 in our study. Mostly boys, who were handicapped, born into dysfunctional families and to parents with poor relationships and unsuitable predispositions for bringing up children, became the victims of abuse, according to the above mentioned authors (44). Here we would like to note that men who were abused in childhood and unemployed in adulthood had, in comparison to the employed men, more frequently university-educated mothers and more frequently university-educated fathers. We believe that this primary finding should be submitted to further investigation, though.

It has been demonstrated that the men who were abused in their youths were the victims of their parents. Violence and abusing in the original families of the abused respondents was apparently transferred from one generation to another and focused on children. The unemployed men we surveyed featured, in comparison to the employed men, defective behavior also beyond their families - they more frequently had a recent conflict with the law and they lived more frequently in a correction facility. We also consider the following finding to be important - men abused in childhood had frequent health problems - depressions, anxiousness, arthritis, night and morning coughs. This finding should also be submitted to further investigation, though.

We also found serious facts related to sexual abuse in childhood (see Table 4). The unemployed men were, in comparison with the employed men, more frequently raped, more frequently victims of sexual events actuated by relatives, family friends or strangers and more frequently physically touched by somebody without understanding it or agreeing to it.

Psychical abuse of children can be of multiple types - refusing, intimidation, isolation, exploitation, bribing and neglecting both physical and mental health. It was found in a sample of men from the Czech Republic (45) that those who had been psychically abused in childhood suffered later from consequences such as low self-esteem, inferiority feelings, depressions and sadness, fear and anxiety. Other authors (19) list some characteristics of children who are exposed to the risk of abuse: restless, impetuous, physically and socially cumbersome, they irritate their educators, their behavior is tiring and troublesome, and they do not fulfill expectations. The above-mentioned Brno-based authors (44) also include children with poor health or prematurely born. Specific characteristics of parents are also a risk factor for the origination of a pathologic environment where a child could be abused (20) - aggressiveness, psychopathy, neurotism, immaturity, chronic frustration, long-term stress, alcoholism, drug addiction and mental sicknesses. Many of these defects of men abused in childhood were, according to the Brno-based ELSPAC study (44, s. 262), demonstrated also by their parents.  They admitted to aggressiveness in the form of repeated physical and psychical abuse of both children and women and in the form of breaking the law.    

CONCLUSION

We believe that a harmonic family is a socially independent prerequisite for a later success of the adult children in the social division of labor. Negatively experienced childhood therefore influences the future assertion in the labor market. Also the social role of young men (fathers) could be distorted in the very first formative phase of early childhood. The unemployed men, in comparison to the employed men, more frequently spent their childhood in orphanages, children's villages or in foster families, more frequently attended special schools, more frequently lived away from home until the age of 18 and more frequently lived in detention centers or in diagnostic institutes until the age of 18. Future social integration and social success of the unemployed men group, connected to the breakup of their families, therefore develop in an unfavorable direction. We believe that both groups of men who were psychically and physically abused during their childhood inadvertently tend to imitate their parents. It seems that contrary to the upbringing and educational efforts of schools, biologic determination (imprinting) from the early phases of human ontogenesis asserts itself in the later life of these men. Also the violent behavior model probably nonverbally transfers from one generation to another.

ABBREVIATIONS

ELSPAC         - European Long-Term Study of Pregnancy and Childhood

RR                  - Relative Risk

WHO              - World Health Organization



[1] ELSPAC is an epidemiological prospective study realized under the auspices of the WHO and encompassing several European countries (Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Great Britain and the Czech Republic). It performs a long-term monitoring of high-risk and protective factors of biopsychosocial development of children born at the beginning of the 1990s. For more detailed information see http://www.med.muni.cz/elspac

[2] Every other marriage divorces in the Czech Republic according to statistics (43).

Acknowledgements:

We are extremely grateful to all the families who participated in this study, we thank all gynecologists, pediatricians, school heads and class teachers, our thanks go to the national ELSPAC study coordinator doc. MUDr. Lubomir Kukla, CSc., and the whole ELSPAC team, which includes field workers, IT analytics, office workers, researchers and volunteers. Basic support to the ELSPAC study has been provided by the Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. This publication is the work of Božena Buchtová, Josef Šmajs, Viktor Kulhavý, Petr Okrajek and Lubomír Kukla who are responsible for the formal accuracy of the publication content, not the ELSPAC Scientific Council.

The published research was funded by a specific project P407/11/038 GAČR.

Correspondence address:

Doc. PhDr. Božena Buchtová, CSc.

Department of Corporate Economy

Faculty of Economics and Administration of the Masaryk University

Lipová 41a

Brno 602 00

e-mail: buchtova@econ.muni.cz

Phone: +420 549497939


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