What should we know about precarious employment and health in 2025? Framing the agenda for the next decade of research

Int J Epidemiol. 2016 Feb;45(1):232-8. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyv342.


The generalization of flexible labour markets, the declining influence of unions and the degradation of social protection has led to the emergence of new forms of employment at the expense of the Standard Employment Relationship, as well as a considerable amount of research across social and scientific disciplines. Years ago we suggested the urgent need to disentangle the consequences of new types of employment for the health and well-being of workers, contending that the study of precarious employment and health is in its infancy. Today, research challenges include clearer, more precise definitions of the original concepts, a more detailed understanding of the pathways and mechanisms through which precarious employment harms worker health, stronger information systems for monitoring the problem and a complex systems approach to employment conditions and health research. All of these must be guided by the theoretical and policy debates linking precarious employment and health, and be geared towards developing better tools for the design, implementation and evaluation of policies intended to minimize precariousness in the labour market and its effects on public health and health inequalities. Our aim in this paper is to outline an agenda for the next decade of research on precarious employment and health, establishing a compelling programme that expands our understanding of complex causes and links.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Employment / trends*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Health / trends*
  • Occupational Medicine
  • Public Policy
  • Research Design
  • Social Determinants of Health / trends*