Analysis of factors contributing to occupational health inequality in Korea: a cross-sectional study using nationally representative survey data

Eunjeong Noh, Young Ho Khang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Despite the consensus that higher occupational classes tend to have better health and lower mortality rates, one study has reported reversed occupational gradients in mortality rates among Korean men after the economic crisis in the late 2000s. To examine these patterns of health inequality in more detail, we investigated the tendency of occupational gradients in socioeconomic position and multiple pathway indicators known to affect mortality in Korea. Methods: We used data from 4176 men aged 35–64 in Korea derived from the 2007–2009 and 2013–2015 Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. We compared the age-standardized prevalence and age-adjusted mean values of each contributing factor to health inequality among occupational groups, which are divided into upper non-manual workers, lower non-manual workers, manual workers, and others. Contributing factors included childhood and adulthood socioeconomic position indicators, biological risk factors, health behaviors, psychosocial factors, and work environment. Results: Upper non-manual workers had prominently higher levels of education, income, parental education, and economic activity than lower non-manual and manual workers. The rates of smoking and high-risk alcohol consumption were lower, and the rate of weight control activities was higher, in the non-manual classes. Further, the rates of depression and suicidal ideation were lower, and perceptions of the work environment were more favorable, among non-manual workers than among their manual counterparts. Conclusions: We detected occupational inequality in a wide range of socioeconomic positions and pathway indicators in Korea with consistently favorable patterns for upper non-manual workers. These occupational gradients do not support the previously reported reversed pattern of higher mortality rates in non-manual groups versus in the manual job class in Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113
JournalArchives of Public Health
Volume79
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Health inequalities
  • Mortality
  • Occupations
  • Psychology
  • Republic of Korea
  • Risk factors
  • Socioeconomic factors

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