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Work, health, and welfare: the association between working conditions, welfare states, and self-reported general health in Europe

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Clare Bambra



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


This article is the first to examine the association between self-reported general health and a wide range of working conditions at the European level and by type of welfare state regime. Data for 21,705 men and women ages 16 to 60 from 27 European countries were obtained from the 2010 European Working Conditions Survey. The influence of individual-level sociodemographic, physical, and psychosocial working conditions and of the organization of work were assessed in multilevel logistic regression analyses, with additional stratification by welfare state regime type (Anglo-Saxon, Bismarckian, Eastern European, Scandinavian, and Southern). At the European level, we found that "not good" general health was more likely to be reported by workers more exposed to hazardous working conditions. Most notably, tiring working positions, job strain, and temporary job contracts were strongly associated with a higher likelihood of reporting "not good" health. Analysis by welfare state regime found that only tiring or painful working conditions were consistently associated with worse self-reported health in all regimes. There was no evidence that the Scandinavian welfare regime protected against the adverse health effects of poor working conditions. The article concludes by examining the implications for comparative occupational health research.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bambra C, Lunau T, Eikemo T, van der Wel K, Dragano N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Health Services

Year: 2014

Volume: 44

Issue: 1

Pages: 113-136

Print publication date: 01/01/2014

Online publication date: 01/01/2014

Acceptance date: 01/01/2014

Date deposited: 05/02/2017

ISSN (print): 0020-7314

ISSN (electronic): 1541-4469

Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc.


DOI: 10.2190/HS.44.1.g


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