2008 Volume 46 Issue 5 Pages 421-423
The global integration of economies worldwide has led to increased pressure for “labor flexibility”. A notable aspect of this trend has been the rise in non-standard work arrangements, which include part-time work, temporary agency-based work, fixed-term contingent work, and independent contracting. Although non-standard work arrangements are convenient for employers, they are often associated with poor pay, absence of pension and health benefits, as well as lack of protection from unions and labor laws. Studies have begun to address the question of whether these “precarious” jobs pose a health hazard for workers. The challenge for causal inference is that precarious workers are likely to differ from non-precarious workers in a variety of characteristics that also influence health outcomes, i.e. there is confounding and selection bias. However, even after taking account of these biases —through propensity score-matched analysis— there is evidence to suggest that non-standard work may be damaging to workers' health. Policies modeled after the European Union's Directive on Part-Time Work may help to mitigate some of the health hazards associated with precarious work.