Precarious employment: Understanding an emerging social determinant of health

J. Benach, A. Vives, M. Amable, C. Vanroelen, G. Tarafa, C. Muntaner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

534 Citations (Scopus)


Employment precariousness is a social determinant that affects the health of workers, families, and communities. Its recent popularity has been spearheaded by three main developments: the surge in "flexible employment" and its associated erosion of workers' employment and working conditions since the mid-1970s; the growing interest in social determinants of health, including employment conditions; and the availability of new data and information systems. This article identifies the historical, economic, and political factors that link precarious employment to health and health equity; reviews concepts, models, instruments, and findings on precarious employment and health inequalities; summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of this literature; and highlights substantive and methodological challenges that need to be addressed. We identify two crucial future aims: to provide a compelling research program that expands our understanding of employment precariousness and to develop and evaluate policy programs that effectively put an end to its health-related impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-253
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Employment conditions
  • Precarious employment
  • Social determinants
  • Social epidemiology
  • Working conditions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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