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Economy and work stress: are they related and how?

Ray TK; Sauter SL
Perspect Work 2011 Jun; 15(1-2):48-51
Stress is a prevalent and costly problem In roday's workplace. ScientIfic surveys, such as the General Social Survey, have consistently shown high levels of job stress among one-third or more of the workforce during the last two decades, and a recent survey by the American Psychological Association (2009) found that work was the primary source of stress among men. Much is known about the conditions of work itself and the risks they present for stress. The same is not true for effects of the economic environment. Numerous studies in the last four decades have examined relationships between indices of economic contraction (especially unemployment) and economic expansion, and illness, injury, and stressrelated disorders. However, uncertainty remains about the risks these economic conditions pose to well-being. Findings in several studies are attributed, in part, to effects of macroeconomic factors on working conditions-some suggesting, for example, that economic downturns are associated with heightened demands at work. Others argue the same for periods of economic expansion. It is of interest, however, that with few exceptions, many of these studies did not directly investigate effects of macroeconomic factors on work-related mechanisms that may underlie observed health and safety outcomes. Rather, such effects were inferred. A notable exception is the work of Fenwick and Tausig (1994), which showed that the effects of recession on job stress could be explained entirely by degraded working conditions. In the present study, we sought to add clarity to the relationship between macroeconomic conditions and risk of job stress by directly investigating fluctuation in the economy and near-term effects on job characteristics that are known risk factors for job stress, specifically, workload demands and the degree of job control exercised by workers.
Humans; Men; Women; Stress; Work-environment; Workers; Workplace-studies; Psychological-effects; Psychological-stress; Risk-factors; Employees; Emotional-stress; Psychological-disorders; Injuries
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Journal Article
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Perspectives on Work
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division