Six employment conditions and health inequalities: A descriptive overview

Joan Benach, Orielle Solar, Montserrat Vergara, Christophe Vanroelen, Vilma Santana, Antía Castedo, Javier Ramos, Carles Muntaner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Standard full-time permanent employment-providing a minimal degree of stability, income sustainability, workers' empowerment, and social protection-has declined in the high-income countries, while it was never the norm in the rest of the world. Consequently, work is increasingly affecting population health and health inequalities, not only as a consequence of harmful working conditions, but also because of employment conditions. Nevertheless, the health consequences of employment conditions are largely neglected in research. The authors describe five types of employment conditions that deviate from standard full-time permanent employment-precarious employment, unemployment, informal employment, forced employment or slavery, and child labor-and their health consequences, from a worldwide perspective. Despite obvious problems of measurement and international comparability, the findings show that, certainly in the low-income countries, these conditions are largely situated in informality, denying any possible standard of safety, protection, sustainability, and workers' rights. Considerable numbers of the world's working people are affected in geographically and socioeconomically unequal ways. This clearly relates nonstandard employment conditions to health equity consequences. In the future, governments and health agencies should establish more adequate surveillance systems, research programs, and policy awareness regarding the health effects of these nonstandard employment conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-280
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jan 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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