The main purpose of this study was to investigate activity during unemployment and the relationship between such activity and mental health in a sample (n = 213) of unemployed Norwegians. The results indicate that the unemployed are generally more passive than the average population, and that they are considerably less involved in social activities. However, the unemployed do not constitute a homogeneous group in terms of activity level and activity profile. Women were somewhat more active that men, particularly in connection with domestic chores. Young people were more active than the other age groups, particularly in connection with extra-familial activities. Several significant relationships were found between different activity categories and mental health. The more active the unemployed were, the better their mental health. The results are discussed in relation to similar data for the average population, other unemployment research, subjective and objective factors which can be of importance to the activity level and profile of the unemployed, sex role issues, theoretical models developed to explain and understand the effects of unemployment, methodological considerations, and the possible functions of activity for mental health.
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