Recession, employment and self-rated health: a study on the gender gap

Public Health. 2018 Jan;154:44-50. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2017.10.013. Epub 2017 Dec 1.


Objectives: Employment status and economic recession have been associated with negative effects on self-rated health, and this effect differs by gender. We analysed the effects of the Spanish economic recession in terms of self-rated health, its differential effect among genders and its influence on gender gap.

Study design: Repeated cross-sectional study using Spanish health surveys (2001-2014).

Methods: Logistic regression models were conducted to explore the association between self-rated health and employment status and its evolution over time and gender. To test the impact of the economic recession, pooled data regression models were conducted.

Results: In this study, we considered 104,577 subjects. During the last 15 years, women have entered the labour market, leading to wide changes in the Spanish traditional family roles. Instead of an increasing proportion of women workers, gender employment differences persist. Therefore, in 2014, the prevalence of workers was 55.77% in men, whereas in women, it was 44.01%. Self-rated health trends during the economic recession differ by gender, with women improving slightly their self-rated health from a low self-rated health prevalence of 38.76% in 2001 to 33.78% in 2014. On the contrary, men seem more vulnerable to employment circumstances, which have led to substantial reduction in the gender gap.

Conclusions: Although a gender gap persists, the change in socio-economic roles seems to increase women's self-rated health, reducing this gap. It is important to promote women's labour market inclusion, even in economic recession periods.

Keywords: Employment; Gender inequalities; Recession; Self-rated health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation*
  • Economic Recession / statistics & numerical data*
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors*
  • Spain