Is the risk of automation to the jobs economy “50-100 more years away,” as per the Treasury Secretary, or might almost 50 percent of jobs be at risk by 2033, as per a 2013 Oxford University study? New findings in the journal of Social Science and Medicine indicate that wherever reality falls between the extremes, there is “a correlation between automation risk and worsened physical and mental health at the county level.” Slate reports.

The new findings suggest that workers in counties facing higher levels of automation risk reported more frequent levels of physical and mental distress, as self-reported using a rubric provided by the County Health Rankings. The counties predicted to be most affected by automation also appeared lower in a broader health ranking, which was based on factors including lifespan, access to care, and alcohol and drug use. These changes in health, the study concludes, could increase costs for health providers by millions of dollars, including up to $47 million due to the stress of total jobs at risk alone. …

The researchers behind the new paper tell Slate that it’s less about when, exactly, these jobs might disappear, but the uncertainty the situation brings. A 2016 Pew study found that two-thirds of Americans expect that “robots and computers” will take over “much of the work done by humans.” Perhaps surprisingly, only 18 percent of the 2,001 respondents thought that automation would replace their own jobs. But people from households with incomes lower than $30,000 were 10 percentage points more likely to think their jobs would be automated….

A 2009 study found that fear of unemployment could possibly lead to more adverse health outcomes than actual unemployment.

In a society where so many benefits are employer-provided, unemployment, and fear of unemployment, are even worse for one’s mental health than in other places.