Insecure Employment Conditions Can Increase Early Death Risk: Study

Precarious or insecure employment conditions can increase risk of early death, a study has warned, stressing that people without a secure job can reduce their risk of premature death by 20 per cent if they gain permanent employment.

Precarious employment is a term that is used to describe jobs with short contracts, low wages and a lack of influence and rights, all of which lead to a working life without predictability and security. The study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community reports, said that the job security market needs to improve.

“This is the first study to show that changing from precarious employment to secure employment can reduce the risk of death,” said Theo Bodin, assistant professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet.

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“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.” The researchers used registry data from over 250,000 workers in Sweden between the ages of 20 and 55 gathered over a period from 2005 to 2017.

The study included people who worked under insecure working conditions and who then shifted to secure working conditions. Those who switched from precarious to secure employment had a 20 per cent lower risk of death, regardless of what happened afterward, compared to those who remained in precarious employment.

If they remained in secure employment for 12 years, the risk of death decreased by 30 per cent.

“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,” said Nuria Matilla-Santander, assistant professor and the study’s first author.

The results are important since they show that the elevated mortality rate observed in workers can be avoided, the authors noted.

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