Temporary employment, work stress and mental health before and after the Spanish economic recession

  • Xavier BartollEmail author
  • Joan Gil
  • Raul Ramos
Original Article



This paper analyses the effects of temporary employment on work stress and mental health before (2006/2007) and during the economic recession (2011/2012), and examines whether the economic recession worsened these two health outcomes.


To control for selection bias, propensity scores (PS) are computed separately for salaried men and women using microdata from two cross-sectional health surveys in Spain, considering temporary (treatment group) versus permanent employment (control group). Next, we use difference-in-difference estimators stratifying by age, education level, and regional unemployment differences using PS as weights.


Our results indicate that salaried worker with a temporary labour contract tends to have similar levels of high work stress and poorer mental health (only for men) than permanent ones for both periods. The economic recession does not appear to worsen both outcomes. However, when stratifying the sample, the economic recession is responsible for increasing stress among older temporary workers and male university graduates, without affecting women. Regarding mental health, we only find evidence of a negative impact of the economic recession on male temporary workers with university education.


The economic recession has not affected poor mental health, but it has accentuated the adverse effects of work stress among some specific subgroups of male workers. These subgroups require specific preventive and support actions as the Spanish firms have not substantially changed their hiring practices after the recession.


Temporary employment Economic recession Work stress Mental health Propensity score weighting 



Raul Ramos and Joan Gil gratefully acknowledge the support received from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through the projects ECO2016-75805-R and ECO2016-78991-R. We are also grateful for the useful comments received from the reviewers of the PhD workshop at the University of Barcelona and from the participants of the CREI-Seminar at University Pompeu Fabra, as well as to the anonymous reviewers of the IAOEH.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agència de Salut Pública de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Institut d’Investigació Biomédica (IIB Sant Pau)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Economics and BEATUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.AQR Research Group-IREAUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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