Introduction to the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health Employment Conditions Network (EMCONET) study, with a glossary on employment relations

Int J Health Serv. 2010;40(2):195-207. doi: 10.2190/HS.40.2.a.


Although the conditions and power relations of employment are known to be crucial health determinants for workers and their families, the nature of these relations and their effects on health have yet to be fully researched. Several types of employment--precarious employment in developed countries; informal sectors, child labor, slavery, and bonded labor in developing countries--expose workers to risky working conditions. Hazardous work and occupation-related diseases kill approximately 1,500 workers, globally, every day. Growing scientific evidence suggests that particular employment conditions, such as job insecurity and precarious employment, create adverse health effects; yet the limited number of studies and the poor quality of their methods prevent our understanding, globally, the complexity of employer-employee power relations, working conditions, levels of social protections, and the reality of employment-related health inequalities. This article introduces a special section on employment-related health inequalities, derived from the EMCONET approach, which focuses on (1) describing major methods and sources of information; (2) presenting theoretical models at the micro and macro levels; (3) presenting a typology of labor markets and welfare states worldwide; (4) describing the main findings in employment policies, including four key points for implementing strategies; and (5) suggesting new research developments, a policy agenda, and recommendations. This introduction includes a glossary of terms in the emerging area of employment conditions and health inequalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Employment / methods
  • Employment / organization & administration*
  • Global Health*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Health
  • Public Policy
  • Public Relations
  • Social Welfare
  • Sociology, Medical
  • Workplace / organization & administration
  • World Health Organization / organization & administration*