Researchers now believe a poor quality job may be worse for your health than no job. People employed in low paying or highly stressful jobs may not actually enjoy better health than those who remain unemployed, according to a recent study.
The researchers examined associations of job transition with health and chronic stress related biomarkers among a population representative cohort of unemployed British adults.
The researchers were particularly interested in comparing the health of those who remained unemployed with those who transitioned to poor quality work and examine whether there was positive (or negative) health selection into good (or poor) quality jobs.
A prospective cohort of 1116 eligible participants aged 35 to 75 years who were unemployed during 2009- 2010 from the UK Household Longitudinal Study were followed up at waves in 2010-2011 and in 2011-2012 for allostatic load biomarkers and self-reported health. The allostatic load index reflects the physiological consequences of exposure to chronic stress and has previously been used to measure health-related effects of work stress.
This index was originally based on data from 10 physiological or physical measurements across the cardiovascular, metabolic and immune systems. Investigators used 12 biomarkers measured (including insulin growth factor, creatinine clearance rate and measures of cholesterol, triglycerides, pulse, blood pressure, and waist-to-height ratio) to construct the index.
An overall job quality variable was created by cross classifying job transition on five job quality variables — low pay, job insecurity, control, satisfaction and anxiety.
In summary, researchers found evidence that, compared to adults who remained unemployed, formerly unemployed adults who transitioned into poor quality jobs had elevated risks for a range of health problems.
They found little evidence that re-employment into poor quality jobs was associated with better health and lower adverse levels of biomarkers related to chronic stress compared to remaining unemployed.
Instead, the evidence suggested that re-employment into poor quality jobs was associated with higher levels of chronic stress related biomarkers compared to remaining unemployed.
“Job quality cannot be disregarded from the employment success of the unemployed,” said lead author Tarani Chandola of University of Manchester. “Just as good work is good for health, we must also remember poor quality work can be detrimental to health.”The study is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.