Summary: Fairbank JA, Ebert L, and Zarkin GA. "Socioeconomic consequences of traumatic stress," in Saigh PA and Bremner JD, eds, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Comprehensive Text. Boston, Allyn and Bacon. 1999.

Thanks to years of research, according to the authors, we know a lot about the impact of traumatic events on physical and psychological well-being. Less attention has been paid, however, to the economic impact of traumatic stress in particular-or mental health problems in general-for individuals or for society as a whole. This chapter reviews literature that has attempted to uncover the economic consequences of trauma and mental illness.

While this chapter focuses on mostly on adults, it does discuss four studies in which adults' work history and income are examined in light of their having experienced sexual or physical abuse as children. Two studies showed higher current rates of unemployment in women who reported a history of child sexual abuse. In fact, they were about twice as likely to be unemployed as women who had not been abused. Another study found that female survivors of child sexual abuse were likely to be poorer overall and living in circumstances that were more disadvantaged than the families they had grown up in. The only study that examined men who had been sexually abused as children found that sexual abuse was related to more unstable work histories.

While more research needs to be done, evidence exists to show links between childhood trauma and adult work patterns and economic status.