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The Causal Effect of Work on Health

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The influence of work on health

Does work or the lack thereof affect health? An EU initiative shed light on the consequences of work on health.

Industrial Technologies icon Industrial Technologies

The nature of work has undergone rapid transformation in recent years, bringing with it poor health, increased stress, longer hours and the ultimate pursuit of a better work-life balance. Much literature is available on the link between work and health. However, the causal effects of working on health are not well understood yet. To address the issue, the EU-funded CEWH (The causal effect of work on health) project set out to identify the causal relationship of work on health and gain valuable insight into how work influences health and to what extent. To achieve its aims, CEWH focused on the causal effect of working on health, and on causal effects of working hours and job quality on health. Various aspects of work were considered, including the choice to work or not, the decision to work many or few hours weekly, and if a given job matches employee qualifications, pursuits and preferences. After a literature review, project partners exploited mortality information and administrative data on doctor and hospital visits to gain a better understanding of the causal effect of working on health. This led to a detailed examination of the different effects on mental and physical health and the identification of short- and long-term health outcomes. Researchers produced three papers on the health results of containing moral hazards, prenatal testosterone, gender wages, and the connection between contentment and employment. They also presented papers at international conferences and produced policy reports and papers intended for practitioners. CEWH greatly contributed to an informed debate over whether work is harmful to health. This is particularly important given the socioeconomic impact of health at work and the EU's ongoing efforts to reduce the overall occurrence of work-related illness.


Work, health, work-life balance, work-related illness

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