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Social inequalities in the impact of flexible employment on different domains of psychosocial health


Study objectives: (1) To analyse the impact of flexible employment on mental health and job dissatisfaction; and (2) to examine the constraints imposed by flexible employment on men’s and women’s partnership formation and people’s decision to become parents. For the two objectives the potentially different patterns by sex and social class are explored.

Design: Cross sectional health survey. Multiple logistic regression models separated for sex and social class (manual and non-manual workers) and controlling for age were fitted. Four types of contractual arrangements have been considered: permanent, fixed term temporary contract, non-fixed term temporary contract, and no contract.

Setting: Catalonia (a region in the north east of Spain).

Participants: Salaried workers interviewed in the 2002 Catalonian health survey with no longstanding limiting illness, aged 16–64 (1474 men and 998 women).

Main results: Fixed term temporary contracts were not associated with poor mental health status. The impact of other forms of flexible employment on mental health depended on the type of contractual arrangement, sex, and social class and it was restricted to less privileged workers, women, and manual male workers. The impact of flexible employment on living arrangements was higher in men. Among both manual and non-manual male workers, those with fixed term temporary contracts were less likely to have children when married or cohabiting and, additionally, among non-manual male workers they also were more likely to remain single (aOR = 2.35; 95%CI = 1.13 to 4.90).

Conclusion: Some forms of temporary contracts are related to adverse health and psychosocial outcomes with different patterns depending on the outcome analysed and on sex and social class. Future research should incorporate variables to capture situations of precariousness associated with flexible employment.

  • LLI, limiting longstanding illness
  • CHS, Catalonia health survey
  • flexible employment
  • sex
  • social class
  • occupational health

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