Review of 30 years of longitudinal studies on the association between job insecurity and health and well-being: is there causal evidence?
De Witte, Hans
De Cuyper, Nele
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Objective: In this review article, we present an overview of the results of longitudinal studies on the consequences of job insecurity for health and well-being. We discuss the evidence for normal causation ("Does job insecurity influence outcomes?"), reversed causation ("Do specific outcomes predict job insecurity?"), and reciprocal causation. We also review the various theories used to develop the hypotheses and whether theory has been used at all. Method: Scientific and scholarly databases were searched to find all existing articles. We found 57 longitudinal studies published since 1987 in a variety of countries throughout the world. All articles were summarised in an encompassing table. Results: The results show strong evidence for normal causation, in which job insecurity influences both psychological well-being and somatic health over time. The results were somewhat dependent on the type of outcome variable analysed, with clear evidence regarding exhaustion (burnout), general mental/psychological well-being, self-rated health, and a variety of somatic complaints. For aspects such as job satisfaction, work engagement, and psychosomatic complaints, the results suggested normal causation in one half to two thirds of the studies only. Reversed or reciprocal causation was rarely studied, and when studied, rarely found. Conclusions: Job insecurity influences health and well-being over time, rather than the other way round. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.