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.
There is also some evidence that job quality is important for health and well being, although some studies suggest people in poor quality jobs are still better off in terms of life satisfaction and well being than those who remain unemployed. There is little evidence on whether becoming re-employed in poor quality work is better for health and well being than remaining unemployed.
The aim of the study was to examine the association of job transition with health and chronic stress related biomarkers. 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 1,116 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 ten physiological or physical measurements across the cardiovascular, metabolic and immune systems. Investigators used twelve 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.