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Negative Work Conditions and Health Across the Career

a PSC Research Project

Investigators:   Sarah Burgard, Michael R. Elliott, James S. House

This research examines how U.S. workers encounter multiple negative experiences at work, and how the accumulation of these experiences throughout their career is associated with health trajectories. Negative working conditions include job strain (high demands combined with low control), job insecurity and unemployment, and low job satisfaction. A better understanding of negative exposures at work is relevant to population health because it may help to explain why the health trajectories of initially socially disadvantaged workers continue to diverge from those of their more advantaged counterparts. Using nationally representative samples of U.S. workers from the longitudinal Americans’ Changing Lives (ACL) and Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) studies, we (1) explore the extent to which individuals experience the clustering of multiple negative working conditions in their jobs, and identify characteristics that put individuals at greatest risk, (2) examine how workers move through careers, accumulating exposure to negative working conditions, and (3) assess whether and how life course exposure to negative working conditions is related to trajectories of self-rated health and depressive symptoms. Item Response Theory (IRT) models are used to generate continuous measures capturing joint exposure to job strain, job insecurity, and low job satisfaction at a given survey wave, and linear individual growth models of these exposure measures are estimated and linked to linear individual growth models of health.

Funding Period: 09/01/2009 to 08/31/2012

Country of Focus: USA

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