Having a precarious job reduces life expectancy

Having a precarious job reduces life expectancy

Financial instability, uncertainties about the future, and social inequalities are among the consequences of job insecurity. But a new study reveals that it could also impact the health of those affected. The researchers behind this work have even established a link between precarious employment conditions and the risk of premature death. Explanations.

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 insecurity. While job insecurity is increasing in many countries around the world, including France, a team of researchers wanted to look into the impact of these precarious conditions on the risk of death. Carried out by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, this research is based more specifically on data from the registers of more than 250,000 Swedish workers aged 20 to 55, collected between 2005 and 2017. The people concerned all worked in conditions precarious before benefiting from safer working conditions.

Moving from precarious to secure employment reduces the risk of premature death by 20 to 30%

Published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the results suggest that job insecurity is likely to increase the risk of premature death. “This is the first study to show that moving from precarious to secure employment can reduce the risk of death. This means that the risk of premature death is higher if one continues to work in jobs without a secure employment contract.“, explains Theo Bodin, researcher at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet, in a press release.

In more detail, we see that participants in a precarious situation reduced their risk of premature death by 20% by moving to permanent employment, in other words more secure. The reduction would even be around 30% for people who had permanent employment over a period of 12 years. The researchers also point out that these results are valid regardless of what may have happened in their professional lives subsequently. “The results are important because they show that the high mortality rate observed among workers can be avoided. If we reduce precariousness in the labor market, we can avoid premature deaths in Sweden“, explains Nuria Matilla-Santander, lead author of the study.

Better identify the main causes of death

It remains to be determined the causes of these premature deaths linked to job insecurity, whether social inequalities, the psychological impact linked to financial difficulties or uncertainty regarding employment. future, less accessibility to health services, or even a sedentary lifestyle linked to long periods of inactivity. According to the researchers, this will be the subject of a future study, the objective being to initiate strategies to act and reduce the risk of premature death in the people concerned.

Using this large population database allowed us to take into account many factors that could influence mortality, such as age, other illnesses that workers may suffer from, or life changes like divorce. Using the methods we used, we can be relatively confident that the difference in mortality is due to job insecurity rather than individual factors“, concluded Nuria Matilla-Santander.