The project reviewed current knowledge of issues relating to the economic impact of health at work to research and recommend future actions for research and policy development. The aims of the project were to improve health and safety at work in a changing labour market with changing environments such as the European Union, ageing populations, feminised labour markets, and increased SMEs.
Project title: An Inquiry into the Health and Safety at Work; a European Union Perspective
The HEALTHatWORK project aimed to review current knowledge and issues related to the economic impact of health at work, to assemble, organise, analyse and synthesise data from national projects and surveys in the participant countries, and to recommend future actions for research and policy development aiming at improving health and safety at work in a changing labour market environment in the European Union.
The aims of the project were achieved through, co-ordinated reviews; the development of common datasets regarding indicators of health and safety at work and consistent statistical modelling across EU countries of the various aspects of occupational safety and health. The use of the GIS analysis capability facilitates the identification of patterns of the above indicators across countries and time. The statistical analysis of appropriate databases explored the interactions between indicators of health and safety at work and labour market conditions. A pilot study designed to evaluate the cost and benefit of investing in health and safety at work from the employee and employer perspective was utilised. In co-ordination meetings and workshops the status of health and safety at work was reviewed, its repercussions for the quality of work are examined and a comparative EU-wide assessment of the structure and dynamics of the health and safety at work is carried out. Policy recommendations aimed at improving the health and safety in the context of changing labour market environment and its repercussions in the competitiveness of European labour markets were also proposed.
Importantly, the project provided a detailed review of the current state of knowledge on occupational health and safety (OSH), the economic and social value of its improvement and the OHS contribution to the improvement of the job quality, job satisfaction, and reduction of lost time at work (due to absenteeism and due to occupational illness/accident) in the participant European countries. It identifies gaps in knowledge and the best methods available to collect necessary data. It reviews and document current data collection on the incidence of accidents, illnesses and absenteeism, the management practices for health and safety at work, the experience in meeting economic, social and institutional goals for increasing job quality and job satisfaction in the European Union.
The project statistical analysis and modelling was based on a harmonisation in data management and any data collection for all the participant EU countries, analysis and reporting. It used Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to generate, maintain and map existing health and safety at work indicators and identified problematic areas, industries or occupations. In addition an up-to-date review of large scale questionnaire-derived datasets (such as LFS) was offered to uncover if there were suitable questions able to produce different indicators of health and safety at work. Two new indicators were proposed; absenteeism for 27 EU countries for the years 2004-2006 and presenteeism piloted for the UK and Germany. Furthermore how the health and safety at work indicators vary with country, industry and occupation was investigated. The common trends in the above indicators by country, industry and occupation were identified and the effect of indicators of health and safety at work in terms of socio-economic and occupational and demographic factors on the quality of work across the participating EU countries was studied.
Importantly, macro-level multivariate analysis to assess the effect of different institutional arrangements or labour market conditions on the health and safety indicators was studied. Finally, the employees’ and employers’ stated preferences with respect to health and safety provision at workplace with respect to their perceptions of health and safety at work and their willingness to pay for OHS. The scenarios were established and the content of the questionnaires designed for collecting the relevant data. The survey obtained data on employees stated preferences with respect to health and safety at workplace. Finally, a comprehensive Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis was provided that offered a comprehensive synthesis of the available qualitative and quantitative evidence on the state of OHS within each Member State participating in the project.
- Laboratoire d'Economie et de Gestion, Université de Bourgogne, Dijon
- Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, Latvia
- Center for Corporate Performance, Aarhus Universitet, Nordre, Denmark
- HYDRAULIS, Thessaloniki
- Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris
- The Institute for Economic Analysis of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research, Spain
- National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
- The Amsterdam Institute of Advanced Labour Studies
- Welsh Economy and Labour Market Evaluation Research Centre
- The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
- Fundacion LEIA - Centro de Desarrollo Tecnologico, Spain
- Central Institute for Labour Protection, Warsaw, Poland
- Department of Economics, University of Birmingham
- Center for Public Affairs Studies Foundation, Budapest
- Universita Cattolica, Milano
- Economic Analysis Department, Spain
- The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, Helsinki
- Harriet Taylor Mill-Institute for Economic and Gender Studies, Berlin
|Aquaculture and Coastal Economic and Social Sustainability
The project aimed to determine rural communities changes with the arrival of aquaculture, predictions for socio-economic, environmental and biological sustainability, and recommendations for coastal resource management where aquaculture and fisheries co-exist.
The project aimed at answering the following three high-level questions:
- Question 1: How does employment in rural communities change with the arrival of aquaculture?
- Question 2: What are the predictions for socio-economic, environmental and biological sustainability resulting from the interactions between aquaculture and fisheries?
- Question 3: What recommendations can be made for coastal resource management in areas where aquaculture and fisheries coexist?
To achieve the answers to these questions the following objectives were pursued:
- Analysis of labour market conditions in 5 European countries in selected areas where aquaculture and fisheries coexist in widely different social and biological environments.
- Analysis of the impact on the local economy of aquaculture and fisheries: social and economic circumstances of rural communities given the interaction between aquaculture and fisheries, the fluctuation in profitability, demand for product and changes in the regulations and incentives
- Analysis of the impact of aquaculture on spatial and temporal patterns of coastal fisheries and biodiversity. Both positive and negative effects will be quantified.
- Synthesis of results and evaluation of existing coastal resource management regimes in different European countries.
- Formulation of recommendations for sustainable coastal resource management.
- Finnish Games and Fisheries Institute, Finland
- Institute of Marine Biology, Crete
- Department of Agriculture Crop and Animal Production, Greece
Department of Agricultural Economics and Department of Animal Science, Thessaloniki
- Department of Marine Science, Greece
- The Coastal and Marine Resource Centre, Cork
- Centre of Marine Science, University of Algarve
- Fisheries Research Services Marine Laboratory
Epicurus looked at changes to working patterns in the workplace, norms, inequalities in socio-economic status and the effects on quality of life for individuals across the EU.
Societal and economic effects on quality of life and well-being: preference identification and priority setting in response to changes in labour market status
Modern job markets are increasingly characterized by a heightened demand for versatile skills, working time flexibility and occupational or geographical mobility. It has become widely acknowledged that workers in European economies have become more constrained in their activities by time considerations and quality procedures. In this framework, the investigation of the effects of socio-economic status and working patterns on individuals’ quality of life and well being is an issue of policy concern and deserves attention. In addition, since work is an overwhelmingly important part of most individuals’ lives, the satisfaction they derive from work is a major determinant of their quality of life and sense of well-being. Job satisfaction is medium through which the effects of working conditions and occupational characteristics flow in order to determine to a substantial degree the quality of life and the sense of overall well being for employed individuals. These issues are the focus of this project. It was found that:
- Wages are generally considered to have a positive impact on job satisfaction. Uniformly across all countries, a higher transitory wage (a higher wage in the period in question compared to the individuals mean wage level) has a significantly positive effect on job satisfaction. However, the results highlight the concept of “rising expectations” since it is found that in some countries there is a significantly negative effect of permanent wages.
- The relation between type of occupation and level of job satisfaction is found to be one of the strongest and most consistent cross-country results. It points to the importance of the type of job as a main determining factor of job satisfaction – and hence of the quality of the job.
- Voluntary part time workers generally have a higher job satisfaction than full time workers while involuntary part time workers generally have a lower job satisfaction.
- Health status is one of the most significant factors in determining job satisfaction
- Individuals who, due to sickness or disability, are unable to work full times appear to report a marked improvement in their life satisfaction if they are able to be active in the labour market as part time workers. Hence, if labour markets accommodate individuals who are unable to work full time due to ill health there will be a direct gain for society in terms of lower transfer payments as well as in terms of increased satisfaction and well-being of the sick or handicapped workers.
- Changing working patterns affect the social norms in the workplace through adaptation.
- Ex ante hypothetical valuations of job or life situations and conditions faced by individuals and revealed ones do not differ. This is a major finding of our experimental study, as it confirms the reliability of subjects’ responses to valuation questions framed as judgements on hypothetical labour market conditions.
- Employees strongly desire jobs that provide security in their employment. This is evident by the fact that riskless permanent contracts are the most preferred contracts on average, while temporary contracts leading to unemployment provide the largest disutility.
- The analysis validates the traditional microeconomic postulate that higher wages provide additional utility to rational workers (monotonicity). Nonetheless, it refutes the second traditional assumption of the labour-leisure trade off model, which asserts that more working hours at any level will enhance employee disutility. On the contrary, an inverse U-shaped relationship is found, which suggests that up to some threshold individuals derive ‘value’ from jobs that involve more hours of work. This result does provide some support to the idea that people derive a sense of ‘intrinsic enjoyment’ from their work, so that, all other things constant, they are willing to exert more effort (hours) up to a certain range.
- European employees declare a strong aversion to the uncertainty and restraint that is associated with rotating shifts and with having ones’ working times determined by the employer.
- Rules that constrain the scope of the worker’s autonomy are seen as a positive asset by European workers, since to be given fixed tasks and freedom to decide when and how the execution of the task should be done is preferred to having complete control over the contents of the work. This result might arise due to the fact that when the tasks become more complex, positive involvement can degenerate in pain if internal pressure of time and responsibility accumulates.
- Training possibilities, in particular those that last for a significant amount of time, are seen as a desirable attribute of the job.
- A consistent finding of this research, and one which is particularly worrying in the face of the adverse demographic evolution of European economies, is that employees express a strong desire for early retirement plans at the age of 55 or 60. Thus, giving up the possibility of early retirement in the future is likely to come at a cost in terms of higher wages or some other work benefit such as lower work intensity or avoiding fixed job routines.
- Jobs which involve loyalty on both sides of the employment relationship are valued highly by the employees
- The results also provide support to the EU’s concerns about the dramatic increase of stress-related illnesses in recent years, as they suggest that employees evaluate jobs with a high intensity of work, measured in terms of tight deadlines and/or high speed, very negatively.
- The contribution of job satisfaction to overall life satisfaction and well-being is the highest, followed by satisfaction with family, with the use of leisure time, with health, with finance and with social life. Satisfaction with the amount of leisure, with environment and with the housing is the domains of satisfaction that have the lowest contribution to the overall life satisfaction and well-being.
- Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Aarhus, Denmark
- Department of Economics, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus, Denmark
- RIFE, Finland
- The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy RIFE, Helsinki, Finland
- Université Panthéon-Assas Paris II, France
- Laboratorio de Economia Experimental, Spain
- Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies of the University of Amsterdam, NL
- University of Macedonia, Greece
- University of Macedonia, Economic and Social Sciences, Department of Economics, Thessaloniki, Greece
|Socio-economic and occupational effects on the health inequality of the older workforce
The project aimed to look at socio-economic and occupational status and mental health of older people in the workforce.
The main objective of the study is to explain the relation between socio-economic status (SES) and health status for the older workforce. The project aims at answering the following questions.
- How does individual socio-economic and/or occupational status affect the physical and mental health and sense of well-being of older individuals of working age (those in the later stages of their working life, above the age of 50)?
- How does individual socio-economic and/or occupational status affect the ability of older workers to participate in the labour market?
- How might policy be developed to enhance the effectiveness of welfare services for the older workforce?
Six countries participated in this research: Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In each of these countries first the existing literature on the SES-health relation was reviewed. A questionnaire was constructed to fill the gaps in knowledge. In each country, 1000 people aged 50-65 answered the same questions (500 for Finland). Therefore, the countries could be perfectly compared and it was possible to identify the effects of institutional factors. The newly created dataset was used to analyze the SES-health relation and to answer the research questions. It was found that:
- Socio-economic health differences exist. People in the lowest income quartile have a substantial higher chance at (very) bad health than people with the highest income. This result was found in each of the participating countries.
- Several mechanisms cause this relation. First, socio-economic status influences health, due to mediating processes like health related behaviour, social support, possibilities to invest in health and access to health care. Second, health could limit ones climb of the societal tree, for instance due to less work capacity or to less ability to follow education. Third, there are factors that influence both health and socio-economic status, like circumstances during youth and the propensity to invest in oneself.
- Health related behaviour is an important factor in explaining socio-economic health differences. Especially doing exercise and suffering from overweight are factors that influence health. Smoking, drinking and eating habits had much less pronounced effects.
- Possibilities to invest in health are also associated with health. Both the level of household income and income inequality have a highly significant effect on health. So, the higher is the absolute level of income, the higher is the relative level of income, the lower is income inequality in the country, the better is one’s health status
- Life events influence health. Marriage exerts a beneficial effect on health status, whereas divorce or death of the partner is associated with lower health.
- Childhood environment factors contribute relatively little to the explanation of differences in health among the respondents. Thus, being raised in a single-parent family or in a family home with many persons per room is not correlated with health of the individuals. What did have an impact was the fact that the respondent missed school as a child due to health problems. This result highlights that there is a temporal persistence in health from early childhood to old age.
- The reverse relation – the relation from health to SES – was also found.
- People out of the labour force are substantial unhealthier than their working peers. This result was found in each country.
- Contrary to recent findings that unemployment is associated with better health, we found a negative association. Furthermore, lasting unemployment leads to a worsening health.
10. The labour force participation – health relation could be explained with several mechanisms. First, work could makes healthier. In several of our studies we found that unemployment leads to a worse health. This could be due to, for instance, work related health insurance schemes or to the increase of the social network. Work could also lead to a health improvement due to increased income. Second, unhealthy people exit the labour force. Health is one of the major determinants of the retirement decision. Third, confounding mechanisms play a role, like drinking behaviour.
- Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Aarhus, Denmark
- RIFE, Finland
- Université Panthéon-Assas Paris II, France
- University of Athens, Greece
- University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
- University of Macedonia, Greece