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Sick of Work?: Questions of Class, Gender and Self-Rated Health
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines two aspects of social inequalities in health with three empirical studies that are based on the Swedish Level of Living survey (LNU): The relationship between accumulated occupational class positions during adulthood and health and the class-specific nature of gender differences in health. Previous research continuously finds that there are health differences by class and gender, but less is known about the extent to which accumulated class experiences in adulthood are related to health or how gender differences vary by class. The overall conclusion in this thesis is that occupational class experiences matters for health, both as historical and current experiences. Furthermore, the results highlight the importance of taking class into consideration when examining health differences between men and women, as the mechanisms that underlie the gender gaps in health are not necessarily the same for all classes. The studies can be outlined as:

Study I: Class differences in working conditions is a mechanism that underlies class inequalities in health. The working class is generally more exposed to adverse working environments than non-manual employees, and when the wear and tear of these conditions accumulate over time, the length of this exposure may contribute to class inequalities in health. Thereby, accumulated time in the working class is studied as a partial explanation for class differences in health. The results suggest that the duration of time in the working class is related to a higher probability of less than good self-rated general health (SRH), given current class position. This association was also found among individuals who were no longer in working class positions and thus show that duration of experience matters, both as current and past experience.

Study II: The study addresses the research gap of class-specificity in gender health inequality and seeks to further disentangle class and gender by studying gender gaps separately by class. The results show that there are class-specific gender gaps for both SRH and musculoskeletal pain, while the gender gap in psychiatric distress appears to be more general across class. Working conditions do not explain the between-class differences in gender gaps but contribute to specific gender differences in health within classes.

Study III: The labour market has changed over time and has “upgraded” the class structure while at the same time the share of women in paid employment has increased. Therefore, female health may be increasingly influenced by occupational factors, such as working conditions. This study explores the class-specific nature of gender differences and investigates musculoskeletal pain and working conditions among employed men and women within classes during a time-period that spanned more than 30 years. There were class-specific gender gaps in health throughout the period. The gender gap has increased more, and is wider, among non-manual employees compared to the working classes. This development could not be explained by changes in working conditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University , 2017.
Series
Swedish Institute for Social Research, ISSN 0283-8222 ; 99
Keyword [en]
Class, Gender, Health inequality, Self-rated health, Musculoskeletal pain, Psychiatric distress, Working conditions, Accumulation, Sweden
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-148744ISBN: 978-91-7797-077-4 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7797-078-1 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-148744DiVA, id: diva2:1161574
Public defence
2018-01-19, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-12-21 Created: 2017-11-30 Last updated: 2018-01-22Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Accumulated occupational class and self-rated health. Can information on previous experience of class further our understanding of the social gradient in health?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Accumulated occupational class and self-rated health. Can information on previous experience of class further our understanding of the social gradient in health?
2013 (English)In: Social Science and Medicine, ISSN 0277-9536, E-ISSN 1873-5347, Vol. 81, p. 26-33Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Previous research has shown a social gradient in health with better health for people in more advantaged positions in society. This research has mainly been on the relationship between current position and health, or social position in childhood and health, but less is known about the potential accumulative impact of positions held in adulthood. In this paper I use the economic activity histories from the Swedish Level of Living survey to examine the relationship between accumulated occupational class positions and health. Step-wise linear probability models are used to investigate how to best capture the potential association between class experience and self-rated health (SRH), and whether the effect of current class is modified when measures of accumulated class are included. I then further test the potentially lasting association between previous exposure to the health risk of working class by analysing only individuals currently in higher or intermediate level service class; the classes under least exposure. I find a positive association between accumulated experiences of working class and less than good SRH. Furthermore, even for employees currently in non-manual positions the risk for less than good SRH increases with each added year of previous experience within working class. This suggests that the social gradient can be both accumulative and lasting, and that more information on the mechanisms of health disparities can be found by taking detailed information on peoples' pasts into account. Although gender differences in health are not a focus in this paper, results also indicate that the influence of class experiences on health might differ between men and women.

Keyword
Social gradient, Self-rated health, Occupational class, Accumulation, Sweden
National Category
Sociology Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89731 (URN)10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.01.006 (DOI)000316710100004 ()
Note

AuthorCount:1

Available from: 2013-05-07 Created: 2013-05-06 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
2. Class-specific gender gaps in health: The role of gender and working conditions within classes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Class-specific gender gaps in health: The role of gender and working conditions within classes
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-148742 (URN)
Available from: 2017-11-07 Created: 2017-11-07 Last updated: 2017-11-30Bibliographically approved
3. Class-specific gender gaps in musculoskeletal pain: Sweden 1974-2010: Have gender differences in pain changed over time and equally across social classes?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Class-specific gender gaps in musculoskeletal pain: Sweden 1974-2010: Have gender differences in pain changed over time and equally across social classes?
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-149174 (URN)
Available from: 2017-11-20 Created: 2017-11-20 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved

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