Comparison of health outcomes among older construction and blue-collar employees in the United States

Am J Ind Med. 1998 Sep;34(3):280-7. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(199809)34:3<280::aid-ajim11>;2-q.


Using the Health and Retirement Study, we compare the health outcomes of older male construction workers with their counterparts in other occupations. We find that construction workers are more susceptible to musculoskeletal problems, chronic lung disease, and emotional/psychiatric disorders. Older construction workers were 1.4 times more likely to have a back problem and 1.3 times more likely to have a foot or leg problem than were other blue-collar workers. Nonsmoking older construction workers were 3.2 times more likely to have chronic lung disease than their nonsmoking blue-collar counterparts. When accounting for alcohol consumption, older construction workers were 1.7 times more likely to have been diagnosed with an emotional problem than other older blue-collar workers. The high rate of chronic lung disease is most likely related to on-the-job dust exposure, while the increased risk of emotional disorders might be due to the dynamics of the construction labor market.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Chronic Disease
  • Facility Design and Construction*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • United States