Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Reality Check

Job insecurity contributes to poor health

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 01 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5183
  1. Ray Moynihan, author and senior research fellow, Bond University, Australia
  1. RayMoynihan{at}

How do we create jobs that don’t do more harm than good?

We’ve known for some time of the unhealthy impacts of insecurity in work, thanks to those who study the social determinants of health. Britain’s famous studies of civil servants showed that losing job security harms health, and chronic insecurity is even more dangerous.1 More recently, a study across 16 European countries confirmed the association, finding that the “public health impact of job insecurity is likely to be substantial.”2 As nations continue to wrestle with mass unemployment and search for ways to boost jobs, this evidence becomes ever more salient.

“Insecurity is one of the big issues for the contemporary economy,” argues the Australian National University associate professor Lyndall Strazdins. “Some jobs are corrosive to health,” she told the BMJ recently, “and insecurity is part of that.” Strazdins is involved with a team of antipodean researchers who’ve helped produce the growing body of evidence on the connection between poor quality work and poor health.

In 2003 the team published a study of …

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