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Health Effects of Job Insecurity among Employees in Swiss General Population


  • Gianfranco DOMENIGHETTI
  • Barbara D'AVANZO
  • Brigitte BISIG


Objectives. To investigate at national level the association between health and the social distress in which the whole employed population is plunged as a consequence of job insecurity. Design. Cross-sectional study. Setting. Switzerland. Subjects. Individuals working full or part time as employees drawn from a random sample (N=2024) of the Swiss general population interviewed by phone. Main outcome measures. Prevalence rates of ten self reported health and health related behaviour indicators according to three levels of perceived job insecurity (low, middle, high). Odds ratios estimated with logistic regression adjusted for relevant respondents characteristics (sex, age, education, having a chronic disease, working full or part-time and in public or private field). Results. One employee out of 10 experienced a high level of job insecurity, out of five a middle level while about 2/3 have no or a very low perception of job insecurity. The results clearly show that psychosocial stress induced in general employed population by fear of unemployment has a negative impact on the individual health and related health behaviour. A positive "dose-response" gradient was found between rise in job insecurity level's and the indicators investigated, suggesting a linear deterioration of health. In particular, employees in high insecurity group, compared to those in low one, have significantly higher odds ratios for seven indicators out of ten [not being in good health OR 1.6 (CI 1.0-2.7); high level of subjective stress OR 1.6 (CI 1.1-2.3); low self-esteem OR 2.9 (CI 1.5-5.7); daily or weekly consumption of tranquillisers OR 2.1 (CI 1.0-4.3); regular low-back pain OR 2.0 (CI 1.3-3.2); regular smoking OR 1.6 (CI 1.0-2.4); avoiding medical consultation or caring for themselves for fear of missing work OR 3.4 (CI 1.9-5.9)]. Employees with higher educational status seem to have more difficulties than less educated in coping with job insecurity. Conclusions. There is a positive association between health status and health related behaviour and social distress due to perception of job insecurity. Fear of unemployment seems to have stronger unfavourable effect in high educated employees than in less educated, probably because investment in career and in personal expectations are, in that group, generally higher. Although this cross-sectional study carried out at national level do not reach the "gold standard" represented by longitudinal ones, the results are fully consistent with those of few analysis on job insecurity carried out prospectively at firm level. Recommendations. In terms of concrete actions the main recommendations stemming from this study could be [i] to break the wall of silence generally erected around studies showing the positive relationship between job insecurity and deterioration of health, in order to promote a public and political consciousness in favour of less excluding and more solidary social and economic choices and [ii] to promote a systematic measure of health impact of policies and legislations with particular emphasis on those affecting labour market and work environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Gianfranco DOMENIGHETTI & Barbara D'AVANZO & Brigitte BISIG, 1999. "Health Effects of Job Insecurity among Employees in Swiss General Population," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 9907, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  • Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:9907

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    1. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1998:88:7:1030-1036_7 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Isik U. Zeytinoglu & Margaret Denton & Sharon Davies & M. Bianca Seaton & Jennifer Millen, 2009. "Visiting and Office Home Care Workers’ Occupational Health: An Analysis of Workplace Flexibility and Worker Insecurity Measures Associated with Emotional and Physical Health," Quantitative Studies in Economics and Population Research Reports 429, McMaster University.
    2. Petri Böckerman, 2004. "Perception of Job Instability in Europe," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 67(3), pages 283-314, July.
    3. Isik U. Zeytinoglu & Margaret Denton & Sharon Davies & M. Bianca Seaton & Jennifer Millen, 2008. "Visiting and Office Home Care Workers’ Occupational Health: An Analysis of Workplace Flexibility and Worker Insecurity Measures Associated with Emotional and Physical Health," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 234, McMaster University.

    More about this item


    economic development; labour market; unemployment; job insecurity; deprivation; health; public health; health impact assessment;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • K2 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law
    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development


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