All Part of the Job? The contribution of the Psychosocial and Physical Work Environment to Health Inequalities in Europe and the European Health Divide


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This study is the first to examine the contribution of both psychosocial and physical risk factors to occupational inequalities in self-assessed health in Europe. Data from 27 countries were obtained from the 2010 European Working Conditions Survey for men and women aged 16 to 60 (n = 21,803). Multilevel logistic regression analyses (random intercept) were applied, estimating odds ratios of reporting less than good health. Analyses indicate that physical working conditions account for a substantial proportion of occupational inequalities in health in both Central/Eastern and Western Europe. Physical, rather than psychosocial, working conditions seem to have the largest effect on self-assessed health in manual classes. For example, controlling for physical working conditions reduced the inequalities in the prevalence of "less than good health" between the lowest (semi- and unskilled manual workers) and highest (higher controllers) occupational groups in Europe by almost 50 percent (Odds Ratio 1.87, 95% Confidence Interval 1.62-2.16 to 1.42, 1.23-1.65). Physical working conditions contribute substantially to health inequalities across "post-industrial" Europe, with women in manual occupations being particularly vulnerable, especially those living in Central/Eastern Europe. An increased political and academic focus on physical working conditions is needed to explain and potentially reduce occupational inequalities in health.



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