Suboptimal health as a predictor of non-permanent employment in middle age: a 12-year follow-up study of the Northern Swedish Cohort

  • Pekka Virtanen
  • Urban Janlert
  • Anne Hammarström
Original Article



Earlier research on health-related selection in the labour market has concentrated on selection of those with poor health into unemployment. The purpose of the present study was to investigate if suboptimal health also predicts non-permanent employment.


A population cohort of 517 men and 477 women was surveyed at age 30 and at age 43 about their health and yearly employment. Non-permanent employment during the follow-up was assessed for its occurrence with Cox regression and for the amount (accumulation in months) with generalised linear models.


Suboptimal self-rated health, sense functioning and sleep quality in women and suboptimal mood in men predicted high accumulation of non-permanent employment. By contrast, in men, suboptimal self-rated health and sense functioning predicted low accumulation. The gender differences were statistically significant. Smoking predicted high occurrence and accumulation of non-permanent employment equally in men and women, whereas no associations were seen with overweight and alcohol consumption.


Selection into non-permanent employment was shown for several indicators of suboptimal health. A gendered pattern was found, with more health selection among women. The findings of this pioneering study should be tested with further research.


Temporary employment Health selection Self-rated health Mental well-being Health behaviour 



This work was partially supported by the Umeå Centre for Global Health Research, with support from FAS, the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (grant no. 2006-1512) and by Academy of Finland (grant no. 132668).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pekka Virtanen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Urban Janlert
    • 2
  • Anne Hammarström
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Health SciencesUniversity of TampereUniversity of TampereFinland
  2. 2.Department of Public Health and Clinical MedicineUniversity of UmeåUmeåSweden

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