Économie et Statistique n° 403-404 - 2007Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe
Stress at Work and the Health of Older Workers in Europe?
Working conditions in developed countries have changed considerably in recent decades. This change has gone hand in hand with the development of new forms of labour organisation which can be sources of stress and health risks. Against a background of ageing populations, these problems are particularly worrying, in terms of health, employment and financing retirement. This study focuses on the existing links between labour organisation and the health of older workers using the Share 2004 survey. It is based on two models, the Karasek and Theorell (1991) model, and the Siegrist (1996) model, which highlight three main areas: the pressure a person feels, which reflects perceived physical stress and pressure arising from major work changes; the scope for decision-making, which relates to freedom of action and the chances to develop new skills; and the reward a person receives, which equates to the feeling of receiving a salary which is proportionate to the effort they make, having prospects for promotion or personal advancement and receiving the recognition he or she deserves. These models also take into account the notion of in-work support and the feeling of job security. Our estimates show that the state of health of older workers is linked to these factors. A low level of perceived pressure and above all a high level of recognition are associated with a good state of health, for men and women alike. Scope for decision-making would only appear to influence women's state of health. Finally, the results reveal the importance for health of the lack of support at work and the feeling of job insecurity; for both sexes, these factors are particularly linked to the risk of depression.