Job insecurity may increase risk of premature death, says study


The researchers' findings suggest that job insecurity can increase the risk of early death. — AFP

FINANCIAL instability, uncertainty about the future and social inequality are just some of the consequences of job insecurity. But a new study reveals that it could also have an impact on people’s health. In fact, researchers report that those with insecure employment conditions can have a higher risk of premature death.

Precarious employment often means short or temporary contracts, low pay, lack of visibility and predictability, and periods of unemployment for some, generating high levels of stress and anxiety, as well as instability.

At a time when job insecurity is on the rise in many countries around the world, a team of researchers set out to investigate the impact of these precarious conditions on the risk of death.

Conducted by the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, this research is based on registry data from over 250,000 Swedish workers aged between 20 and 55, collected between 2005 and 2017. The people concerned had all experienced insecure working conditions before benefiting from more stable working conditions.

Published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the researchers’ findings suggest that job insecurity can increase the risk of early death. “This is the first study to show that changing from precarious employment to secure employment can reduce the risk of death. It’s the same as saying that the risk of early death is higher if one keeps working in jobs without a secure employment contract,” says Theo Bodin, assistant professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, quoted in a news release.

The comfort of security

Participants in precarious situations reduced their risk of premature death by 20% by switching to a permanent, or more secure, job. This reduction even rose to 30% for those who stayed in permanent employment for a 12-year period.

Moreover, the researchers point out that these results are valid irrespective of what may have happened in their subsequent working lives. “The results are important since they show that the elevated mortality rate observed in workers can be avoided.

If we reduce precariousness in the labour market, we can avoid premature deaths in Sweden,” says the study’s first author, Nuria Matilla-Santander.

What remains to be determined are the potential causes of these premature deaths linked to job insecurity, whether in terms of social inequalities, the psychological impact of financial difficulties or uncertainty about the future, reduced access to healthcare services, or the sedentary lifestyle associated with long periods of inactivity.

According to the researchers, this will be the subject of a future study, with the aim of developing strategies to reduce the risk of premature death among those concerned.

“Using this large population database allowed us to take account of many factors that could influence mortality, such as age, other diseases that workers can suffer from or life changes like divorce. Because of the methods we used, we can be relatively certain that the difference in mortality is due to the precariousness of employment rather than individual factors,” concludes Matilla-Santander. – AFPRelaxnews

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