The health impacts of the contemporary manufacturing and service sectors on men and women

Eleni Kampanellou, Donald Houston


Manufacturing and manual employment and, to a lesser extent, low-grade white-collar work have long been associated with poor health outcomes. This article reports important new findings based on longitudinal micro data that demonstrate important changes and gender-related patterns to this prevailing understanding. Specifically, manufacturing employment now has a protective health effect for men, and women’s health is not strongly influenced by occupation.  High-paid service sector employment is found to be bad for health, particularly among men.  Changing industry within the service sector is linked to a deterioration in health, particularly among women, whereas changing employment from manufacturing to services is found to be bad for men’s health.  Confirming previous research, shifts from any sector of employment into unemployment and economic inactivity are strongly associated with a deterioration in health.  The findings point to four conclusions: i) the emergence of new occupational hazards in the service sector; ii) the improvement of working conditions in manufacturing; iii) changing industry is damaging to an individual’s health, possibly due to skills mismatches that may arise, although further research is required to further disentangle the direction of causation; and iv) the impacts on health of different industrial sectors and changes between industrial sectors vary between men and women.


gender; health; inactivity;longitudinal studies;morbidity; occupational hazards; unemployment

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