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Informal employment and health status in Central America

María López-Ruiz, Lucía Artazcoz, José Miguel Martínez, Marianela Rojas, Fernando G. Benavides
Datos fuente
BMC Public Health 2015, 15:698. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-015-2030-9
  • Comunicaciones/Informes/Artículos (individual)
Publicado en ODS
Background: Informal employment is assumed to be an important but seldom studied social determinant of health, affecting a large number of workers around the world. Although informal employment arrangements constitute a permanent, structural pillar of many labor markets in low- and middle-income countries, studies about its relationship with health status are still scarce. In Central America more than 60 % of non-agricultural workers have informal employment. Therefore, we aimed to assess differences in self-perceived and mental health status of Central Americans with different patterns of informal and formal employment. Methods: Employment profiles were created by combining employment relations (employees, self-employed, employers), social security coverage (yes/no) and type of contract -only for employees- (written, oral, none), in a cross-sectional study of 8,823 non-agricultural workers based on the I Central American Survey of Working Conditions and Health of 2011. Using logistic regression models, adjusted odds ratios (aOR) by country, age and occupation, of poor self-perceived and mental health were calculated by sex. Different models were first fitted separately for the three dimensions of employment conditions, then for employment profiles as independent variables. Results:Poor self-perceived health was reported by 34 % of women and 27 % of men, and 30 % of women and 26 % of men reported poor mental health. Lack of social security coverage was associated with poor self-perceived health (women, aOR: 1.38, 95 % CI: 1.13-1.67; men, aOR: 1.36, 95 % CI: 1.13-1.63). Almost all employment profiles with no social security coverage were significantly associated with poor self-perceived and poor mental health in both sexes. Conclusions:Our results show that informal employment is a significant factor in social health inequalities among Central American workers, which could be diminished by policies aimed at increasing social security coverage.
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