Experiences of insecurity among non-standard workers across different welfare states: A qualitative cross-country study

Kim Bosmans, Emilia F. Vignola, Valentina Álvarez-López, Mireia Julià, Emily Q. Ahonen, Mireia Bolíbar, Mariana Gutiérrez-Zamora, Lars Ivarsson, Signild Kvart, Carles Muntaner, Patricia O'Campo, Marisol E. Ruiz, Kristian Vänerhagen, Isabel Cuervo, Letitia Davis, Ignacio Diaz, Astrid Escrig-Piñol, Virginia Gunn, Wayne Lewchuk, Per-Olof ÖstergrenEva Padrosa, David Vílchez, Alejandra Vives, Mattias Vos, Alessandro Zaupa, Theo Bodin, Sherry L. Baron

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In recent decades, economic crises and political reforms focused on employment flexibilization have increased the use of non-standard employment (NSE). National political and economic contexts determine how employers interact with labour and how the state interacts with labour markets and manages social welfare policies. These factors influence the prevalence of NSE and the level of employment insecurity it creates, but the extent to which a country's policy context mitigates the health influences of NSE is unclear. This study describes how workers experience insecurities created by NSE, and how this influences their health and well-being, in countries with different welfare states: Belgium, Canada, Chile, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. Interviews with 250 workers in NSE were analysed using a multiple-case study approach. Workers in all countries experienced multiple insecurities (e.g., income and employment insecurity) and relational tension with employers/clients, with negative health and well-being influences, in ways that were shaped by social inequalities (e.g., related to family support or immigration status). Welfare state differences were reflected in the level of workers' exclusion from social protections, the time scale of their insecurity (threatening daily survival or longer-term life planning), and their ability to derive a sense of control from NSE. Workers in Belgium, Sweden, and Spain, countries with more generous welfare states, navigated these insecurities with greater success and with less influence on health and well-being. Findings contribute to our understanding of the health and well-being influences of NSE across different welfare regimes and suggest the need in all six countries for stronger state responses to NSE. Increased investment in universal and more equal rights and benefits in NSE could reduce the widening gap between standard and NSE.
Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's9
TijdschriftSocial Science & Medicine
StatusPublished - jun 2023

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