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Health, Work and Working Conditions: A Review of the European Economic Literature

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  • Thomas Barnay

    (TEPP - Travail, Emploi et Politiques Publiques - UPEM - Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, ERUDITE - Equipe de Recherche sur l’Utilisation des Données Individuelles en lien avec la Théorie Economique - UPEC UP12 - Université Paris-Est Créteil Val-de-Marne - Paris 12 - UPEM - Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée)

Abstract

Economists have traditionally been very cautious when studying the interaction between employment and health because of the two-way causal relationship between these two variables: health status influences the probability of being employed and, at the same time, working affects the health status. Because these two variables are determined simultaneously, researchers control endogeneity skews (e.g., reverse causality, omitted variables) when conducting empirical analysis. With these caveats in mind, the literature finds that a favourable work environment and high job security lead to better health conditions. Being employed with appropriate working conditions plays a protective role on physical health and psychiatric disorders. By contrast, non-employment and retirement are generally worse for mental health than employment, and overemployment has a negative effect on health. These findings stress the importance of employment and of adequate working conditions for the health of workers. In this context, it is a concern that a significant proportion of European workers (29%) would like to work fewer hours because unwanted long hours are likely to signal a poor level of job satisfaction and inadequate working conditions, with detrimental effects on health. Thus, in Europe, labour-market policy has increasingly paid attention to job sustainability and job satisfaction. The literature clearly invites employers to take better account of the worker preferences when setting the number of hours worked. Overall, a specific "flexicurity" (combination of high employment protection, job satisfaction and active labour-market policies) is likely to have a positive effect on health.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Barnay, 2016. "Health, Work and Working Conditions: A Review of the European Economic Literature," Post-Print hal-01297538, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-01297538
    DOI: 10.1007/s10198-015-0715-8
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    working conditions; employment; work; health;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions

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