APH 2010, 68, 14-29:

The socio-economic distribution of health-related occupational stressors among wage-earners in a Post-Fordist labour market

Vanroelen C, Levecque K, Louckx F

Keywords: age distribution, Belgium, gender, health inequality, occupational health, occupational groups, social class, socio-economic factors

Unequal exposure to occupational stressors is a central pathway towards socio-economic health inequalities in working populations. This paper assesses the differential exposure of such stressors within the population of Flemish wage-earners. Our focus is on differences in gender, age, skill levels, occupational and social class positions.

The analyses are based on the “Flemish Quality of Labour Monitor 2004” (Vlaamse Werk-baarheidsmonitor 2004), a cross-sectional representative sample (N=11,099) of 16- to 65-year-old wage-earners, living in Flanders. The investigated health-related working conditions are: high quantitative, emotional and physical demands, frequent repetitive movements, atypical work schedules, frequent overtime work and schedule changes, low job autonomy, task variation and superior-support, high job insecurity and exposure to bullying. The distribution of the working conditions is assessed by means of standard logistic regression analyses. Also gender specific analyses are performed.

At least two clusters of health-related occupational stressors can be identified. On the one hand, high physical demands, atypical schedules, low control over the work environment and high job insecurity are more common in manual, unskilled and subordinate workers. On the other hand, high quantitative and emotional demands, as well as schedule unpredictability are characteristic of higher skilled, professional and managerial employees.

Since little empirical information on the socio-economic distribution of various health-related occupational stressors is available for Flanders, our results are important for obtaining more insight into the pathways linking occupational health risks to socio-economic health inequali-ties in the Flemish wage-earning population.