The healthy worker

Our study shows that investment in healthcare could contribute to employment success.
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People with better health tend to enjoy greater success in their careers, according to a new study from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The research, published in Economics & Human Biology Journal, showed that people who enjoy good health are more likely to achieve career success and higher salaries, while employees exhibiting poorer health are less likely to be promoted into management positions.

The authors describe this relationship as the ‘healthy worker effect’. Higher levels of self-reported health, where an individual indicates the level they consider their health to be, increases the probability of career success in three significant ways: increasing the probability of an individual having a supervisory role; greater autonomy to organise their daily tasks and; greater influence on policy decisions at their organisation.

The authors examined data on first generation migrants with ancestry from 90 countries, who have immigrated to the 30 European countries included in this study, between 2002-2012. They looked at the effect of health status on migrants in their country of origin, and their health in destination countries, to examine the effect of health on their occupational status.

The study is one of the first to positively link good health to enhanced occupational status, and builds on previous research that have found poor health is shaped by occupational status, for example, having a low-skilled job. The researchers drew parallels with good health having a similar positive effect on an individual’s career to being educated to secondary level.

Co-author of the study Dr. Joan Costa-Font of the Department of Health Policy, said: “Our study shows that investment in healthcare could contribute to employment success. This study once again highlights the value and effectiveness of investment in healthcare programmes as key to both a strong labour market and economy.”

The ‘healthy worker effect’: do healthy people climb the occupational ladder? by Joan Costa-Font and Martin Ljunge was published in Economics and Human Biology in January 2018