Health Inequalities in Temporary Employment. A Cross-National Comparative Study of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.


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OsloMet - Oslo Metropolitan University

Document type


Master i International Social Welfare and Health Policy


BACKGROUND: Health inequalities in temporary employment are of much concern recently due to the adverse effects it could have on an individual’s already ill health and the effects on entire society in the form of reduced tax revenue mobilization and the consumption of more health service. Labour market deregulation policies associated with weakened employment protection, has made it relatively flexible for employers to offer temporary work contract. However, the majority of workers are against temporary employment because of the associated job insecurity, lower income, reduced self-worth and social participation. Health inequalities in temporary work contracts in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are examined in this study. Although these Scandinavian countries share many characteristics, both the prevalence of temporary work contracts and the strength of employment protection differs noticeably. OBJECTIVE: To examine if people with limiting long-standing illness (LLSI) are overrepresented among those holding temporary work contract and whether health inequalities in temporary work contract is more striking in Sweden, where temporary employment is more common than in Denmark and Norway. Furthermore, the current study examines temporary work contract prevalence in Scandinavia among people with specific health conditions. METHOD: The statistical association between LLSI and temporary work contract were analyzed using multivariate linear regression. Temporary work contract, health and other covariates – age, education and gender – were included in an OLS regression model. Moreover, temporary work contract prevalence was examined for six specific health conditions separately, using the same set of sociodemographic control variables. RESULTS: There is a significantly higher likelihood of holding temporary work contract among people who reported LLSI in Sweden, where temporary employment is more prevalent. On the specific health conditions, allergies and severe headache were significantly associated with a temporary work contract in Denmark, whereas temporary work is significantly more common among people with muscular and joint pains in the foot/leg in Sweden. The results overall indicate that people with ill health hold temporary work contracts more often in countries with higher temporary employment rate and weaker employment protection.




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