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Associations between precarious employment trajectories and mental health among older workers in Germany: Vertical and horizontal inequalities.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to investigate the longitudinal association between multi-dimensionally measured precarious employment (PE) trajectories and mental health among older employees in Germany.

METHODS: Current data from the German lidA study was used, including panel cases, who participated in all four survey waves (2011, 2014, 2018, 2022). The study comprised 1636 subjects, aged 46 and 52 years at baseline. Group-based trajectory modelling was used to model PE trajectories based on a score combining multiple items from the dimensions employment insecurity and income inadequacy. The association between PE trajectories (2011-2022) and mental health (2022) was tested using weighted logistic regression.

RESULTS: We identified a PE trajectory with upward movement that best described 13.6% of the study sample. Representation in this group was socially unequally distributed with noticeably larger shares of female, lower-educated and lower-skilled workers in PE. Women following this trajectory had increased odds [odds ratio (OR) 1.68-1.82] of reporting poor mental health in 2022 compared to their counterparts in constant non-PE. This was not the case for men (OR 0.37-0.51).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings highlight horizontal and vertical inequalities with respect to exposure to and consequences of PE. Future labor market reforms should improve protection of women, who will likely be disadvantaged by accumulating employment-related mental health risks over the course of their lives.

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