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Reviewing the effort-reward imbalance model: drawing up the balance of 45 empirical studies


  • van Vegchel, Natasja
  • de Jonge, Jan
  • Bosma, Hans
  • Schaufeli, Wilmar


The present paper provides a review of 45 studies on the Effort-Reward Imbalance (ERI) Model published from 1986 to 2003 (inclusive). In 1986, the ERI Model was introduced by Siegrist et al. (Biological and Psychological Factors in Cardiovascular Disease, Springer, Berlin, 1986, pp. 104-126; Social Science & Medicine 22 (1986) 247). The central tenet of the ERI Model is that an imbalance between (high) efforts and (low) rewards leads to (sustained) strain reactions. Besides efforts and rewards, overcommitment (i.e., a personality characteristic) is a crucial aspect of the model. Essentially, the ERI Model contains three main assumptions, which could be labeled as (1) the extrinsic ERI hypothesis: high efforts in combination with low rewards increase the risk of poor health, (2) the intrinsic overcommitment hypothesis: a high level of overcommitment may increase the risk of poor health, and (3) the interaction hypothesis: employees reporting an extrinsic ERI and a high level of overcommitment have an even higher risk of poor health. The review showed that the extrinsic ERI hypothesis has gained considerable empirical support. Results for overcommitment remain inconsistent and the moderating effect of overcommitment on the relation between ERI and employee health has been scarcely examined. Based on these review results suggestions for future research are proposed.

Suggested Citation

  • van Vegchel, Natasja & de Jonge, Jan & Bosma, Hans & Schaufeli, Wilmar, 2005. "Reviewing the effort-reward imbalance model: drawing up the balance of 45 empirical studies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(5), pages 1117-1131, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:60:y:2005:i:5:p:1117-1131

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. de Jonge, Jan & Bosma, Hans & Peter, Richard & Siegrist, Johannes, 2000. "Job strain, effort-reward imbalance and employee well-being: a large-scale cross-sectional study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 50(9), pages 1317-1327, May.
    2. Siegrist, Johannes & Siegrist, Karin & Weber, Ingbert, 1986. "Sociological concepts in the etiology of chronic disease: The case of ischemic heart disease," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 247-253, January.
    3. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1998:88:1:68-74_4 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Siegrist, Johannes & Starke, Dagmar & Chandola, Tarani & Godin, Isabelle & Marmot, Michael & Niedhammer, Isabelle & Peter, Richard, 2004. "The measurement of effort-reward imbalance at work: European comparisons," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(8), pages 1483-1499, April.
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    3. David W. Johnston & Wang-Sheng Lee, 2013. "Extra Status and Extra Stress: Are Promotions Good for Us?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 66(1), pages 32-54, January.
    4. Shimazu, Akihito & de Jonge, Jan, 2009. "Reciprocal relations between effort-reward imbalance at work and adverse health: A three-wave panel survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 60-68, January.
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    6. Joseph Lanfranchi & Sanja Pekovic, 2012. "How Green is my Firm? Workers' Attitudes towards Job, Job Involvement and Effort in Environmentally-Related Firms," Working Papers halshs-00976341, HAL.
    7. Liebig, Stefan & Schupp, Jürgen, 2008. "Leistungs- oder Bedarfsgerechtigkeit? Über einen normativen Zielkonflikt des Wohlfahrtsstaats und seiner Bedeutung für die Bewertung des eigenen Erwerbseinkommens," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 7-30.
    8. Lancee, Bram & ter Hoeven, Claartje L., 2010. "Self-rated health and sickness-related absence: The modifying role of civic participation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(4), pages 570-574, February.
    9. Grimani, Katerina, 2014. "Labor earnings and Psychological well-being: An Empirical Analysis," MPRA Paper 57098, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Lanfranchi, Joseph & Pekovic, Sanja, 2014. "How green is my firm? Workers' attitudes and behaviors towards job in environmentally-related firms," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 16-29.
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    12. Lin, Chieh-Peng & Tsai, Yuan-Hui & Liu, Min-Ling, 2016. "Something good and something bad in R&D teams: Effects of social identification and dysfunctional behavior," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 191-199.
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    14. Christoph Randler & Manuela Luffer & Melanie Müller, 2015. "Morningness in Teachers is Related to a Higher Sense of Coherence and Lower Burnout," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 122(2), pages 595-606, June.
    15. Jean-Baptist Prel & Mario Iskenius & Richard Peter, 2014. "Are effort–reward imbalance and social isolation mediating the association between education and depressiveness? Baseline findings from the lidA § -study," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 59(6), pages 945-955, December.
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    17. Sperlich, Stefanie & Geyer, Siegfried, 2015. "The mediating effect of effort-reward imbalance in household and family work on the relationship between education and women's health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 58-65.
    18. Kornélia R. Lazányi, 2011. "Health Care Workers at Risk," Proceedings- 9th International Conference on Mangement, Enterprise and Benchmarking (MEB 2011), Óbuda University, Keleti Faculty of Business and Management.
    19. Stefanie Sperlich & Siegfried Geyer, 2015. "The impact of social and family-related factors on women’s stress experience in household and family work," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 60(3), pages 375-387, March.
    20. Kalousova, Lucie & Mendes de Leon, Carlos, 2015. "Increase in frailty of older workers and retirees predicted by negative psychosocial working conditions on the job," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 275-283.


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