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The inconsistent mediating effects of psychosocial work characteristics on the education–health relationship

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  • Qiu, Hanyao
  • Bures, Regina
  • Shehan, Constance L.
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    Abstract

    This study examined the relationship between psychosocial work characteristics and educational disparities in health. Informed by the evidence on the relationship between work pressure and higher education, we suggested reframing the distribution of psychosocial work characteristics in the context of education. We differentiated psychosocial work resources from demands and hypothesized that the inconsistent mediation effects of psychosocial resources and demands are associated with educational status. Using data from the 2008 National Study of Changing Workforce (NSCW), we found that psychosocial work resources and demands had inconsistent mediating effects on the education–health relationship. Higher educated employees were more likely to report autonomy, challenge and schedule control, but they were also more likely to experience overtime hours, job overload and work–family conflict. Work resources appeared to protect higher-educated workers from stress and health problems while work demands put them at risk of less favorable health outcomes. In addition we found that the ‘costs’ of psychosocial work demands were stronger among women, particularly those who were highly educated, suggesting that highly educated women did not reap the full health benefit of high educational attainment. Our findings illustrate that the observed positive associations between education and health mask important heterogeneity in the effects of psychosocial work characteristics. We discuss the implications of this study for health and family-based work policies.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953612004868
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 75 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 8 ()
    Pages: 1539-1546

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:8:p:1539-1546

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    Related research

    Keywords: USA; Education; Stress; Depression; Health; Psychosocial work resources; Psychosocial work demands;

    References

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    1. Warren, John Robert & Hoonakker, Peter & Carayon, Pascale & Brand, Jennie, 2004. "Job characteristics as mediators in SES-health relationships," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(7), pages 1367-1378, October.
    2. Borrell, Carme & Muntaner, Carles & Benach, Joan & Artazcoz, Lucía, 2004. "Social class and self-reported health status among men and women: what is the role of work organisation, household material standards and household labour?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(10), pages 1869-1887, May.
    3. Mark Wooden & Diana Warren & Robert Drago, 2007. "Working Time Mismatch and Subjective Well-Being," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2007n29, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    4. Plaisier, Inger & de Bruijn, Jeanne G.M. & de Graaf, Ron & Have, Margreet ten & Beekman, Aartjan T.F. & Penninx, Brenda W.J.H., 2007. "The contribution of working conditions and social support to the onset of depressive and anxiety disorders among male and female employees," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 401-410, January.
    5. Borg, Vilhelm & Kristensen, Tage S., 2000. "Social class and self-rated health: can the gradient be explained by differences in life style or work environment?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(7), pages 1019-1030, October.
    6. Schieman, Scott & Reid, Sarah, 2009. "Job authority and health: Unraveling the competing suppression and explanatory influences," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 1616-1624, December.
    7. Monden, Christiaan W.S., 2005. "Current and lifetime exposure to working conditions. Do they explain educational differences in subjective health?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(11), pages 2465-2476, June.
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    Cited by:
    1. Meyer, Sophie-Charlotte & Künn-Nelen, Annemarie, 2014. "Do Occupational Demands Explain the Educational Gradient in Health?," IZA Discussion Papers 8011, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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