Working under time pressure: An increasing risk for women's health?

Norma Barbini, Rosa Squadroni, Francesco Sera

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Gender work segregation may be evidenced also in the different exposure of the two sexes to those working constraints which are considered more difficult with age, as the possibility to move from adverse work conditions to less demanding work plays un important role in the health related selection. Several studies carried out at European or national level, found a declining trend of physically demanding work in men, suggesting that men had more possibility to moving to less physically demanding jobs and that favourable differences between older and younger workers were more remarkable for older men than for older women as regards poor work postures and repetitive work. As to working under time pressure, this constraint had increased for both sexes, but the increase had been greatest among women. The high working rhythms are commonly associated with musculoskeletal pain, stress and poor perceived health. This study was mainly aimed at analysing gender differences in work-related health problems, focusing on relationships between the difficult in coping with work under time pressure with advancing age and some health complaints, such as musculoskeletal symptoms and self-reported health. A population of 1195 Italian workers employed in different productive sectors and divided into 5 age cohorts were interviewed regarding the difficulty, with age, of coping with high working rhythms. The relationships between working under time pressure and the presence of musculoskeletal complaints (back pain and multiple complaints) and poor health self-assessment were then explored. Female workers were more exposed to repetitive work with tight deadlines and to time pressure. Analyzing the occupational exposure by cohorts, a decreasing exposure frequency may be observed for men in the oldest cohorts, while the opposite was observed for women, who complained about these constraints as particularly difficult with ageing. Working under time pressure appeared to be the least tolerated constraint for women, who had a significantly higher Odds Ratio than men in all cohorts of age, with a greatest risk in the 52 years cohort. The high working rhythms were associated with poor health, both for musculoskeletal pain and perceived health, especially when the exposure resulted particularly difficult to bear with ageing, but in different ways for the two sexes. In women the interaction between repetitive work with high deadlines and musculoskeletal complaints, showed a statistically significantly association both for upper limbs and for multiple musculoskeletal symptoms. The multivariate analysis showed an increasing risk with age for women, while in men repetitive work with tight deadlines was associated with a poorly perceived health. When analyzing interactions between repetitive work with tight deadlines and poor health-assessment, a progressive increased risk was observed from the 42 to 52 year cohorts for men, and in the 47 year cohort for women. The possibility for men in avoiding the more demanding or difficult work can be hypothesized, such as more autonomy and control over their work situation, while for women it seems that the possibility of avoiding those working constraints which are especially poorly tolerated with ageing is less probable.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEconomic Policies and Issues on a Global Scale
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781611229370
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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