Exploring the Health Effects of Precarious Employment by Sex/Gender Using Mixed Methods

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By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Employment in the United States has changed dramatically since the mid-1970s. Labor market forces like globalization and diversification of the American workforce have led to a heavily segmented labor market where new types of flexible employment such as temporary, contingent, and nonstandard work arrangements are increasingly common. These newer types of work are often on the lower end of the precarious employment continuum, categorizing jobs by their degree of: 1) temporariness, 2) disempowerment, 3) vulnerability, 4) compensation (wages), 5) rights, and 6) ability to exercise worker rights. The increase in precarious employment likely disproportionately affects women when compared to men, in part because women are more likely to work in part-time occupations that already: 1) provide fewer work-related benefits, 2) have less opportunity for upward movement, and 3) pay less on average than full-time occupations. Further, dissimilarities in biology and in social context make it likely that the health effects of precarious employment differ substantially by sex/ gender category, but many of those differences have yet to be explored. Precarious employment also has the potential to amplify health disparities that already exist in a number of populations, particularly for low-wage and low-educated workers. Occupations are heavily segregated by race/ethnicity as well as by sex/gender, making it likely that the exposure to precarious employment and any resulting health effects of precarious employment vary meaningfully by race/ethnicity.

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