Between Two Worlds : Studies of migration, work, and health

Abstract: This thesis aims to investigate the extent to which work-related factors contribute to the health inequalities often observed between foreign-origin and native-origin persons in Sweden. Four empirical studies using survey data and population-based registers assessed the health impact of different labor market adversities among groups of foreign-origin persons who were both in and outside the labor market relative to native-origin Swedes.Studies I and II examined associations between different measures of working life quality, including adverse psychosocial and physical working conditions and educational mismatch, and self-reported health among the employed. Adverse psychosocial and physical working conditions minimally contributed to the excess risk of poor health found among workers from low- and middle-income countries. Over-education had a stronger association with increased risk of poor health, most notably among foreign-born workers from countries outside of Western Europe. Under-educated women from these countries also demonstrated an elevated risk of poor health.  There was no association between educational mismatch and poor health among native-born workers. Studies III and IV focused on the health implications of labor market exclusion, and examined relationships between employment status and risk of all-cause mortality and suicide. The majority of foreign-origin groups that experienced unemployment showed an elevated risk of both mortality and suicide. The magnitude of excess risk varied by generational status and region of origin. Variations in patterns of suicide risk were also evident among migrants by age at arrival and duration of residence. Yet within many foreign-origin groups, health advantages were observed among the employed.The health of migrants is affected by the confluence of several different pre- and post-migration factors.  The extent to which health inequalities are found among persons of foreign-origin in Sweden is influenced by the degree to which they experience labor market adversities, as well as differential vulnerability to the negative effects of these adversities across foreign-origin groups.

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