"Good jobs" to "bad jobs": replicated evidence of an employment continuum from two large surveys

Soc Sci Med. 2003 Apr;56(8):1749-60. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(02)00170-3.


The goal of this study was to offer an expanded conceptualization of the employment continuum and test its utility by examining the association of different employment statuses with physical health and depression. Using data from two large cross-sectional surveys we develop five different employment categories (i.e., "optimal", "economically good", "psychologically good", "barely adequate", and "inadequate" employment) in addition to unemployment to form an employment continuum. Evidence from these studies indicates that less than optimal forms of employment are not randomly distributed throughout the population, and that a substantial number of adults are working in "inadequate or "barely adequate" jobs. Moreover, our analyses revealed a consistent association between less than optimal jobs and poorer physical and mental health among adults. We conclude our paper by discussing important policy implications of these findings and offering suggestions for future research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • California / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / ethnology
  • Educational Status
  • Employment / classification*
  • Employment / economics
  • Employment / psychology
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupations / economics
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Class
  • Unemployment
  • United States / epidemiology