Sustainable work for health and job longevity
While improved public health in groups with high or middle socioeconomic status (e.g. educational level) permits many to work for more years, the gap is widening for less advantaged groups, such as those with only compulsory level education. Within manual jobs, individual health status and the challenges of physical demands exceed the physical capacity of many middle-aged, and with a low bargaining power, constitute major threats to job longevity. Artificial intelligence and digitization are also rapidly transforming the labour market, especially for low-mid grade (level) white-collar workers. Young workers often have insecure job contracts, while older workers may have a permanent position but have a fear of leaving a safe position for a new one, and ultimately may be forced to leave their job when they are unable to meet the demands.
Current economic incentives to prolong working life – often combined with more restrictive unemployment and disability benefits – may overall increase work participation but may also decrease sustainability in the more disadvantaged part of the labour market.
Recent research suggests that unemployment is the most important factor behind lost working years among workers with less education, and that primary prevention focused on the work environment rather than individual health promotion (lifestyle habits), will enhance sustainability together with inclusive welfare systems. Resilience, or reduced vulnerability, in the workforce on a macro- and workplace level can be achieved by well-established societal measures.
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