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Healthy working days: The (positive) effect of work effort on occupational health from a human capital approach

Ainhoa Urtasun and Imanol Nuñez

Social Science & Medicine, 2018, vol. 202, issue C, 79-88

Abstract: The neoclassic economic rationale has taken for granted that the effect of effort on health is negative. However, several studies in the field of occupational health and medicine claim that working is clearly better for health than non-working or being unemployed, as some psychological and physical condition may improve with work effort. This paper analyzes the effect of work effort on occupational health. The proposed human capital approach builds upon the classic economic perspective, that assumes a negative effect of effort on health, and extends it by allowing positive effects, as suggested by occupational researchers. Using a sample from 2010 of 20,000 European workers we find that, under adequate working conditions, the level of effort (measured in working hours) at which health starts to deteriorate is very high (120 h per week). However, if working conditions are not adequate, even a moderate effort (35 h per week) can harm workers health.

Keywords: Europe; Occupational health; Work effort; Human capital; Overwork; Age; Working conditions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:202:y:2018:i:c:p:79-88