Welfare states, flexible employment, and health: a critical review

Il-Ho Kim, Carles Muntaner, Faraz Vahid Shahidi, Alejandra Vives, Christophe Vanroelen, Joan Benach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

113 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The aim of this literature review is to identify whether differences between
welfare regimes can manifest diverse consequences for the health effects of insecure and
precarious employment, as well as to address challenging issues and implications for future
Methods: By searching PubMed, PsychINFO, Stork Social Science Citation Index, and Index
Lilac, from 1988 to June 2010, a total of 104 original articles were selected (65 on job
insecurity; 39 on precarious employment).
Results: After classifying selected empirical studies according to a six-regime welfare state
typology (Scandinavian, Bismarckian, Southern European, Anglo-Saxon, Eastern European,
and East Asian), this systematic review reveals that welfare regimes may be an important
determinant of employment-related health. Precarious workers in Scandinavian welfare
states report better or equal health status when compared to their permanent counterparts.
By contrast, precarious work in the remaining welfare state regimes is found to be associated
with adverse health outcomes, including poor self-rated health, musculoskeletal disorders,
injuries, and mental health problems.
Conclusions: Future research should be conducted by employing conceptual models that
specify how macro-economic processes, country-level welfare factors, and individual
employment histories and environments relate to employment-related health inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-127
Number of pages28
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • welfare state
  • job insecurity
  • precarious employment
  • health

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