Reciprocal Relationships between Nonstandard Work and Health in the United States

Sarah A. Burgard, University of Michigan
Mary E. Corcoran, University of Michigan
Jennie E. Brand, University of Michigan

In the last several decades labor market opportunities have changed as employers have pursued a model of “flexible work,” separating employees into a core group with stable, continuous and secure jobs, and a peripheral group employed in involuntary and at-will nonstandard jobs. Nonstandard employment has been identified as an emerging population health issue, but existing evidence for health effects is mixed. Using longitudinal data from a nationally-representative sample of U.S. adults and a sample of single mothers who received TANF in 1997, this analysis explores the characteristics of workers in nonstandard (and standard) employment and the consequences for subsequent health. Using unique data on health and economic shocks, as well as repeated measures of respondents’ health over time, we also assess the degree to which health predicts employment arrangements. Finally, we distinguish between people who prefer working under nonstandard arrangements and those who would rather work under a standard contract.

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Presented in Session 42: Influences of Health on Socioeconomic Status