What is it about?

The study investigated the contribution of working conditions and health behaviors to inequalities in physical health. During the late career of workers in Germany, health behaviors seem to have a larger contribution to inequalities in physical health than working conditions. However, the authors highlight the interplay of working conditions and health behaviors: poor health behaviors are likely affected by adverse working conditions over the life course. Thus, to reduce inequalities in physical health among older workers in Germany, interventions to promote healthy behaviors are promising, but improving working conditions is likely an important prerequisite.

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Why is it important?

The study is the first to quantify the contribution of working conditions and health behaviors to physical health inequalities among older workers in Germany. The study highlights the disadvantaged role of lower educated workers during the late career.

Perspectives

The results of our study are especially important in view of a policy trend that is widely described as "extended working life" but is effectively "delaying retirement". Health is - in many cases - a limiting factor when it comes to working longer. Our study shows that lower educated workers in Germany experience worse health than higher educated. Both, work factors and health behaviors contribute to these inequalities in physical health. More efforts to address these inequalities are necessary on all levels (e.g. politics, company level) to enable a longer working life. (M. Rohrbacher)

Max Rohrbacher
Bergische Universitat Wuppertal

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This page is a summary of: The contribution of work and health-related lifestyle to educational inequalities in physical health among older workers in Germany. A causal mediation analysis with data from the lidA cohort study, PLoS ONE, August 2023, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0285319.
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