Where you live may determine your work-related health

In the context of the current global economic crisis, it escapes nobody how important it is to have a job and the effect of a country’s welfare system on those who don’t have one. But perhaps one doesn’t always think on the effect this can have, specifically, on one’s health. A recent review published in Health Policy shows how country-level welfare regimes may be an important determinant of employment-related health.

The authors analysed 104 original articles published between 1988 and 2010 on job insecurity and precarious employment. They classified each study according to a six-regime welfare state typology: Scandinavian, Bismarckian (which includes countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland), Southern European, Anglo-Saxon, Eastern European, and East Asian.

Their results show how, for example, precarious workers in Scandinavian welfare states report equal or even better health status when compared to their permanent counterparts. By contrast, precarious work in the remaining welfare state regimes is found to be associated with adverse health outcomes, including poor self-rated health, musculoskeletal disorders, injuries, and mental health problems.

The review was led by Joan Benach, head of the Health Inequalities Research Group (GREDS-EMCONET) of the UPF and also a member of the Spanish CIBERESP. Colleagues at the Bloomberg School of Nursing, University of Toronto, in Canada, collaborated. The authors state that future research on how macro-economic processes, country-level welfare factors, and individual employment histories and environments relate to employment-related health inequalities should be conducted.

Kim IH, Muntaner C, Vahid Shahidi F, Vives A, Vanroelen C, & Benach J (2011). Welfare states, flexible employment, and health: A critical review. Health policy (Amsterdam, Netherlands) PMID: 22137444


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