Precarious Employment: Understanding an Emerging Social Determinant of Health (2014)


Precarious Employment: Understanding an Emerging Social Determinant of Health

Publication Type

Journal Article

Year of Publication



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

Journal Title

Annual Review of Public Health


precarious employment, social determinants, social epidemiology, employment conditions, working conditions


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.


Corresponding Author

J. Benach, Email:

Line (s) of Research

Integrated Planning