Exposure To Harmful Workplace Practices Could Account For Inequality In Life Spans Across Different Demographic Groups

Exposure To Harmful Workplace Practices Could Account For Inequality In Life Spans Across Different Demographic Groups

Health Affairs. October
2015, Vol. 34, Issue 10, Pages 1761–1768

The existence of important socioeconomic disparities in health and mortality is a well-established fact. Many pathways have been adduced to explain inequality in life spans. In this article we examine one factor that has been somewhat neglected: People with different levels of education get sorted into jobs with different degrees of exposure to workplace attributes that contribute to poor health. We used General Social Survey data to estimate differential exposures to workplace conditions, results from a meta-analysis that estimated the effect of workplace conditions on mortality, and a model that permitted us to estimate the overall effects of workplace practices on health. We conclude that 10–38 percent of the difference in life expectancy across demographic groups can be explained by the different job conditions their members experience.