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Time poverty, health and health-related behaviours in a Southern European city: a gender issue

Abstract

Background Despite its growing interest, time poverty is a neglected issue in public health analysis and policies. The objectives of this study were: (1) to analyse gender differences in paid, unpaid and total working time; (2) to identify gender differences in the factors related to time poverty; and (3) to examine gender differences in the relationship between time poverty, health and health-related behaviours in the city of Barcelona (Spain).

Methods Cross-sectional study based on salaried workers aged 16–64 years interviewed in the 2021 Barcelona Health Survey (695 men and 713 women). Time poverty was defined as the top tercile of the total paid and unpaid work. Dependent variables were self-perceived health status, mental health, sleep time, sleep quality and leisure time physical activity.

Results Women were more likely to be time poor. In both sexes, time poverty was related to the number of children. Whereas among men time poverty was not associated with any health indicators, among women it was related to poor mental health status (aOR=2.11, 95% CI 1.39 to 3.20), short sleep (aOR=1.54, 95% CI 1.05 to 2.25), poor sleep quality (aOR=1.83, 95% CI 1.25 to 2.68) and low leisure time physical activity (aOR=1.50, 95% CI 1.00 to 2.26).

Conclusions This study suggests that time use can be an important social determinant of health and of gender inequalities in health. At the local level, in many European cities, time poverty could be reduced, among other interventions, by increasing affordable and good quality public services for the care of dependent persons.

  • poverty
  • health
  • employment
  • health inequalities

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data of the 2021 Barcelona Health Survey are publicly available upon request (lartazco@aspb.cat).

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