Research shows how unstable employment conditions increase the risk of early death

According to the study, people without a permanent employment contract can reduce their risk of premature death by 20 percent if they get a permanent job.

The results of the study were published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Reports of the Karolinska Institute.

The researchers’ findings show that employment security needs to be improved in Sweden. Precarious employment is a word used to describe positions with short contracts (such as temporary work), low pay, and limited authority and rights, resulting in an unstable and uncertain work environment.

In this study, researchers looked at how this affects the risk of death.

“This is the first study to show that moving from precarious to secure employment can reduce the risk of death,” says the paper’s last author, Theo Bodin, an assistant professor at Karolinska Institutet’s Institute of Environmental Medicine.

“It’s like saying the risk of early death is higher if you continue to work without a secure employment contract.”

The researchers used register data on more than 250,000 workers in Sweden between the ages of 20 and 55 collected between 2005 and 2017. The study included people who worked in hazardous work conditions and then switched to safe work conditions.

Those who switched from precarious to secure employment had a 20 percent lower risk of death, regardless of what happened afterward, compared to those who remained in precarious employment. If they stayed in a safe job for 12 years, the risk of death was reduced by 30 percent.

“Using this large population database allowed us to take into account many factors that can influence mortality, such as age, other diseases that workers may suffer from, or life changes such as divorce,” explains Nuria Matila-Santander, Associate Professor of the same institute and the first author of the study.

“Thanks to the methods we used, we can be relatively confident that the difference in mortality is due to precarious work and not to individual factors.”

She continues: “The results are important because they show that the increased mortality rate among workers can be avoided. If we reduce uncertainty in the labor market, we can avoid premature death in Sweden.’

Dr Matila-Santander says the next step in the research will be to look at the specific causes of death in this regard.

The study was mainly funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Social Security (Forte). The researchers report no conflict of interest.

(with inputs from ANI)

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