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The effects of workplace downsizing on cause-specific mortality: a register-based follow-up study of Finnish men and women remaining in employment
  1. P Martikainen1,2,
  2. N Mäki2,
  3. M Jäntti3
  1. 1
    Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2
    Population Research Unit, Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki, Finland
  3. 3
    Department of Economics and Statistics, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland
  1. Dr P Martikainen, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, PO Box 4 (Fabianinkatu 24), FIN-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland; pekka.martikainen{at}


Background: Experience of workplace downsizing (ie reduction in personnel) is common and may constitute a threat to public health in working populations. This study aimed to determine whether downsizing was associated with increased mortality among those remaining in the downsized workplaces.

Methods: Prospective population registration data containing detailed socioeconomic and demographic information on 85 833 Finnish employees aged 35–64 years at the beginning of 1994 or 1993 followed up for cause-specific mortality for 8 years. One-year changes in workplace staffing levels were obtained from Statistics Finland records on workplaces.

Results: There was no association between downsizing on any level (a 10–29%, 30–49% or 50–100% reduction in personnel) and increased all-cause mortality among those remaining in the downsized workplaces. No sex differences were observed in these effects among those who remained in the downsized workplaces, nor was a period of particular vulnerability immediately following the downsizing identified. Furthermore, no detrimental effects were observed for any particular cause of death studied.

Conclusions: The results provide evidence that downsizing is not a significant determinant of excess mortality among those remaining in the downsized workplaces.

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  • Funding: The study is supported by the Academy of Finland and by the Nordic Programme on Welfare Research under the Nordic Council of Ministers, project no. 149813-599. The sponsors of the study had no role in the study design, in the collection, analysis and interpretation of the data, in the writing of the report or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: Data protection guidelines and ethical regulations approved by the data protection authorities, Statistics Finland and the University of Helsinki have been followed in the collection, use and reporting of the data. Statistics Finland gave permission for use of the anonymous register-based data.

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