Improving Individual and Community Health Through Better Employment Opportunities
Employment and job creation build prosperity and carry important health benefits, both for individuals and entire communities. There is a large and growing body of literature demonstrating a positive correlation between employment and individual and community health.
Employment can be defined as a contractual relationship between the worker and an employer for financial or other reward that is sustained over a period of time. It can be used as a socially acceptable means of earning a living and may involve a set of technical and social tasks performed within certain physical and social contexts. In the US, employment serves as the main source of income of the country’s residents.
Across multiple studies, higher income was consistently associated with better health, including a reduced overall risk of mortality and reduced rates of such chronic diseases as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Mortality rates are lower among those who are employed compared to the unemployed. Re-employment after a period of being out of a job has beneficial effects on physical health, psychological distress, and certain psychiatric conditions. Employment also reduces the risk of depression and psychological distress, improves general mental health, and, over time, predicts a positive trend in perceived health and physical functioning in both women and men. Quality employment can be beneficial to people with physical and mental disabilities who are able to work. One important caveat is that the relationship between employment and health and well-being is moderated by job quality and there is a growing literature that low-security, high-stress, or long-hour/shift jobs may not benefit and could actually harm employees’ health.
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