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Work, Risk and Health: Differences between Immigrants and Natives in Spain


  • Solé, Meritxell

    (CREB, Barcelona)

  • Diaz-Serrano, Luis

    () (Universitat Rovira i Virgili)

  • Rodriguez Martinez, Marisol

    () (University of Barcelona)


We analyze the impact of working and contractual conditions, particularly exposure to job risks, on the probability of acquiring a disability. We postulate a model in which this impact is mediated by the choice of occupation, with a level of risk associated to it. We assume this choice is endogenous, and that it depends on preferences and opportunities in the labour market, both of which may differ between immigrants and natives. To test this hypothesis we use data from the Continuous Sample of Working Lives of the Spanish SS system. It contains individual, job and firm information of over a million workers, including a representative sample of immigrants. We find that risk exposure increases the probability of permanent disability by 5.3%; temporary employment also influences health. Migrant status – with differences among regions of origin – significantly affects both disability and the probability of being employed in a risky occupation. Most groups of immigrants work in riskier jobs, but have lower probability of becoming disabled. Nevertheless, our theoretical hypothesis that disability and risk are jointly determined is not valid for immigrants: i.e. for them working conditions is not a matter of choice in terms of health.

Suggested Citation

  • Solé, Meritxell & Diaz-Serrano, Luis & Rodriguez Martinez, Marisol, 2010. "Work, Risk and Health: Differences between Immigrants and Natives in Spain," IZA Discussion Papers 5338, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5338

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cristina Fernández & Carolina Ortega, 2008. "Labor market assimilation of immigrants in Spain: employment at the expense of bad job-matches?," Spanish Economic Review, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 83-107, June.
    2. Ana Llena-Nozal & Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait, 2004. "The effect of work on mental health: does occupation matter?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(10), pages 1045-1062.
    3. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Nicolai Kristensen, 2008. "Work environment satisfaction and employee health: panel evidence from Denmark, France and Spain, 1994–2001," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 9(1), pages 51-61, February.
    4. Sergi Jiménez-Martín & José M. Labeaga & Cristina Vilaplana Prieto, 2006. "Award errors and permanent disability benefits in Spain," Economics Working Papers 966, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    5. Daniel, Christophe & Sofer, Catherine, 1998. "Bargaining, Compensating Wage Differentials, and Dualism of the Labor Market: Theory and Evidence for France," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(3), pages 546-575, July.
    6. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Sara de la Rica, 2007. "Labour Market Assimilation of Recent Immigrants in Spain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 45(2), pages 257-284, June.
    7. Diaz-Serrano, Luis, 2010. "Do Legal Immigrants and Natives Compete in the Labour Market? Evidence from Catalonia," IZA Discussion Papers 4693, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Silvana Robone & Andrew Jones & Nigel Rice, 2011. "Contractual conditions, working conditions and their impact on health and well-being," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 12(5), pages 429-444, October.
    9. Antoni Riera Font & Aina M. Ripoll Penalva & Joseph Mateu Sbert, 2007. "Estimación del valor estadístico de la vida en España: Una aplicación del Método de Salarios Hedónicos," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 181(2), pages 29-48, June.
    10. Gash, Vanessa & Mertens, Antje & Romeu Gordo, Laura, 2006. "Are fixed-term jobs bad for your health? : a comparison of West-Germany and Spain," IAB Discussion Paper 200608, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    11. John Leeth & John Ruser, 2006. "Safety segregation: The importance of gender, race, and ethnicity on workplace risk," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 4(2), pages 123-152, August.
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    More about this item


    MCVL; disability; working conditions; Spain; immigration;

    JEL classification:

    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions

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