Decline in Physical Health of Older Workers and Retirees Predicted by Negative Psychosocial Working Conditions on the Job

Well-established evidence has shown that negative psychosocial working conditions adversely affect the health and well-being of workers. Yet little is known about their consequences on the health of older workers. Our article examines the associations between declines in physical health in later life, measured as frailty, and negative psychosocial working conditions. We use longitudinal cross-national data collected by SHARE I and SHARE IV and focus on respondents who were working at baseline.

We find that low reward, high effort, effort to reward ratio, and effort to control ratio were all predictors of an increase in frailty. The association between low reward and change in frailty was modified by retirement status at follow-up, with nonretired respondents in low-reward jobs experiencing the largest increases in frailty at follow-up. These results suggest that the effect of psychosocial working conditions on physical health may extend well past the prime working age, and retirement may have a protective effect on the health of older workers in low reward jobs.

Lucie Kalousova

PhD Student in Sociology and Health Policy, University of Michigan

  • Topic of the paper:Negative psychosocial working conditions impact quality of aging after labor force exit and geographical and social stratification within the European Union
  • Research interests:social stratification and mobility, health disparities, comparative social policy