When you go beyond just money, and look at the holistic view ? Thinking about things like leisure time, health, relationships, personal development etc ? Have our policymakers set up a system where its better to shirk than work ? Some people in the UK seem to think so, and their dole is much more modest than ours .....[link]In general the answer is a resounding 'no'.
Holistic unemployment is a far bigger health hazard than work. The long term employed suffer from a host of physical and psychological issues like cardiovascular problems due to lack of exercise and an over-reliance on junk food, depression and lack of self-esteem. Studies conducted in Norway found people in the workforce generally live for longer; an extra eight years for women and seven years for men.
The problem with unemployment is the lack of a routine for the chores in life : shopping, cooking, exercise etc. Unemployed single people tend to slip into a pattern of irregular sleeping hours, playing too much computer games and eating a diet based around convenience food. That pattern takes it's toll.
So in many cases, it's harder to live well unemployed than if you are in employment. Sure people say 'I'll write that book now that I have the time', or 'I get fit' or 'I'll master that hobby'. But this rarely happens and the days can slip past very quickly when you're caught in a limbo zone of having no real purpose. Some days it's hard just to get out of bed (what's the point?) and weeks can pass before you leave the house. If you live alone, you can make do with internet chat but that doesn't really satisfy.
Being unemployed is certainly not an easier life than working for your supper if your goal is to live well. It is in fact more difficult to live a good life while being unemployed, but not impossible. A solid routine, friendships and challenging hobbies are the key.