142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Informal work and mental health in Colombia

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

David Hurtado, ScD , Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Job informality is defined as work performed outside regulatory structures, and it is characterized by lack of employment-related benefits like savings in a pension/retirement fund or health insurance. Though job informality has been a growing social problem in Latin America, less is known about its potential repercussions on individual mental health.  Here, we tested whether informal workers reported higher psychological distress compared with workers with benefits. Data come from a cross-sectional survey, applied in 2011 to a random and representative sample of adults at the six main labor markerts of Colombia (n=2,154). Psychological distress was measured with the K6 questionnaire. Job informality was prevalent in 65 percent of the workforce, comprised by 35 percent who did not have pension fund nor health insurance, 25 percent who lacked pension funds but had health insurance through their employment, and another 5 percent who had pension funds but no health insurance. Psychological distress did not differ between formal (two benefits) and informal (no benefits) workers. However, workers without health insurance had higher psychological distress compared with insured workers (β=0.08. 95% CI 0.01, 0.15, p<0.05), independently of socio-demographic (age, sex, marital status, city or origin), socioeconomic (education and household income) characteristics, as well as pension fund status. In conclusion, the majority of the Colombian workforce reported no job-related benefits. Even though lack of pension funds accounted for most of job informality, psychological distress was higher among those without health insurance. Labor policies ought to encourage access to the health-care system to reduce mental health issues.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe informal work in Colombia's main labor markets, and to discuss its implications on worker's mental health.

Keyword(s): Labor, Workforce

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I hold a doctoral degree in social and behavioral sciences and I have researched workplace determinants of health. I am licensed occupational health professional in Colombia, where this research was based on.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.