Journal of Immigrant Health

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 103–118 | Cite as

Health in Relation to Unemployment and Sick Leave Among Immigrants in Sweden from a Gender Perspective

  • Sharareh Akhavan
  • Carina O. Bildt
  • Elsie C. Franzén
  • Sarah Wamala


The purpose of this study was to analyze health in relation to unemployment and sick leave among immigrants from a gender perspective. Questionnaire, observations, and group discussions were used for data collection. The study group consisted of 60 unemployed persons with immigrant or refugee background, 30 women and 30 men. Slightly more than half of the participants considered their health to be poor and experienced physical and/or mental disorders. The female participants in comparison to male participants experienced poorer health. The results show that there is a reciprocal influence between health, work, and migration. Immigration may cause poor health, which as a selection effect leads to unemployment and/or sick leave. Immigration may also bring about an inferior position in the labor market, which leads to poor health due to exposure effects. The influence on health is more marked for immigrant women than for immigrant men.

unemployment immigrant health gender sweden 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Date-Bah E: Introduction: In: Date-Bah E, ed. Promoting Gender Equality at Work-Turning Vision into Reality. London: Zed Books and ILO; 1997Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Voss M: Work and Health-Epidemiological Studies of Sickness Absence and Mortality With Special Reference to Work Environment, Factors Outside Work and Unemployment. Doctoral dissertation. Stockholm: Karolinska Institute; 2002Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Theodossiou I: The effects of low-pay and unemployment on psychological wee-being-A logistic regression approach. J Health Econ 1998; 17(1):85–104Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Aroian KJ, Norris A: Assessing risk for depression among immigrants at two-year follow-up. Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2002; 16(6):245–253Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hall EM, Johnsson JV: Depression in unemployed Swedish women. Soc Sci Med 1988; 27:1349–1355Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ullah P, Banks M, Warr P: Social support, social pressures and psychological distress during unemployment. J Psychol Med 1985; 15(2):283–295Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Seligman MEP: Helplessness: On Depression, Development and Death. 2nd edn. New York: W.H.Freeman; 1976Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Yolanda GR: Learned helplessness or expectancy value? A psychological model for describing the experiences of different categories of unemployed people. J Adolesc 1997; 20(3):321–332.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hammarström A: Health consequences of youth unemployment. Public Health 1994; 108:403–412Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hammarström A: Gendered health consequences of unemployment among young people: In: Bildt C, Karlqvist L, eds. Women's Conditions in Working Life. Stockholm: National Institute of Working Life; 2001:40–56Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    SCB. The [Swedish] Central Bureau of Statistics; 2002 Scholar
  12. 12.
    RFV. The National [Swedish] Social Insurance Board; 2002 Scholar
  13. 13.
    RFV: Långtidssjukskrivna-regionala skillnader i diagnos, yrke, arbetsgivare och återgång i arbete. Long-Term Unemployed-regional Differences in Diagnoses, Profession, Employers and Resumption of Work. Stockholm. RFV-Enheten för analys; 2002Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ågren G: Introduction on behalf of the National Swedish Institute of Public Health, Sweden: In: Health Issues of Minority Women Living in Europe. Report from meeting of World Health Organization's regional Office for Europe, National Swedish Institute of Public and Health City Project in Gothenburg, Sweden; 2000Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Invandrarnas hälsa och sociala förhållande. Underlag till folkhälsorapport 1994 och social rapport 1994. Immigrants' Health and Social Situation. Basis for Public Health Report 1994 and Social Report 1994. Socialstyrelsen: SoS-Rapport; 1995:5Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hjerm M: Integration till svensk välfärd? Om invandrares välfärd på 90-talet. Integration into Swedish Welfare? On Immigrants' Welfare in the Nineties. Statistiska Centralbyrån, Arbetslivsinstitutet 2002; 96:87–100Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Vogel J: Integration till svensk välfärd? Om invandrares välfärd på 90-talet. Integration into Swedish Welfare? On Immigrants' Welfare in the Nineties. Statistiska Centralbyrån, Arbetslivsinstitutet 2002; 96:131–149Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Folkhälsorapport 2001: Public Health Report 2001: Stockholm Socialstyrelsen och Epidemiologiskt centrum; 2001Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Copper H: Investigating socio-economic explanations for gender and ethnic inequalities in health. Soc Sci Med 2002; 54(5):693–706Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Krieger N: The ostrich, the albatross, and public health: An ecosocial perspective-or why an explicit focus on health consequences of discrimination and deprivation is vital for good science and public health practice. Public Health Rep 2001; 16:419–423Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Edin P, åslund O: Invandrare på 1990-talets arbetsmarknad. Immigrants on the Labor Market in the 1990s. Stockholm: Forskningsrapport, IFAU; 2001:7Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    The National Board of Health and Welfare: Welfare and Public Health in Sweden 1994. Stockholm: Modin-Tryck; 1995Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Statens offentliga utredningar: Handlingsplan för ökad hälsa i arbetslivet. Action Plan for Improved Health in Working Life. Stockholm: Del 2. Socialdepartementet, SOU; 2002:5Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Akhavan S: Follow-up of Iranian immigrant women's health. In pressGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Wamala S, Lynch J: Introduction-Integrating research on gender and social inequalities in health: In: Wamala S, Lynch J, eds. Gender and Social Inequalities in Health-A Public Health Issue. Lund: Student literature and the National [Swedish] Institute of Public Health; 2002Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Franzén EC: Att bryta upp och byta land. To Break up and Change Country. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur; 2001Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Antonovsky A: Unraveling the Mystery of Health. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; 1990Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    WHO: Surveillance of Risk Factors for Noncommunicable Diseases. The WHO Stepwise Approach; Geneva: World Health organization; 2001Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Bergström S: Health for All by the Year 2000? BMJ 1996; 313(10):316Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Ewles L, Simnett I: Promoting Health: A Practical Guide to Health Education. Chichester: Wiley; 1985Google Scholar
  31. 31.ödra.pdf, Scholar
  32. 32.
    Mathison S: Why triangulation? Educ Res 1988; 17:13–17Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Morse M, Field P: Nursing Research-The Application of Qualitative Approaches. 2nd edn. London: Chapman & Hall; 1996Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Halleröd B: Fattigdom i Sverige. Rapport från arbetsgruppen för ekonomisk trygghet till Nationella folkhälsokommitén. Poverty in Sweden. Stockholm: Nationella folkhälsokommitén; 1999Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Forssen A, Carlstadt G: Work, health and ill health. New research makes women's experiences visible. Scand J Prim Health Care 2001; 19(3):154–157Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Arbetslöshetsförsäkringen-för vem? Unemployment Insurance-for Whom? Integrationsverket; 2000:21Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Olika villkor-olika hälsa. En studie bland invandrare från Chile, Iran, Polen och Turkiet. Different Conditions-Different Health. A Study Among Immigrants From Chile, Iran, Poland and Turkey. Stockholm: Socialstyrelsens SoS-rapport; 2000:3Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Selander J: Unemployed Sick-Leavers and Vocational Rehabilitation: A Person-Level Study Based on a National Social Insurance Material. Doctoral dissertation. Stockholm: Karolinska Institute; 1999Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Hallsten L, Isaksson K: Arbetslöshet, osäker anställning och psykisk ohälsa: Unemployment, Precarious Employment and Mental Ill Health: In: Marklund S, ed. Arbetsliv och hälsa. Stockholm: Arbetslivsinstitutet; 2000Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharareh Akhavan
    • 1
  • Carina O. Bildt
    • 1
  • Elsie C. Franzén
    • 2
  • Sarah Wamala
    • 3
  1. 1.Research and Development DepartmentNational Institute for Working LifeStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of EducationStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Department of Public Health SciencesKarolinska InstituteStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations