Just one hour of extra work is bad for your health

Just one hour of extra work is bad for your health

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Health effects: Longer working hours can make us sick

A new study has shown that an hour's increase in weekly working hours is already harmful to health. This small increase is sufficient for employees to rate their own condition worse and go to the doctor much more often.

Increasing workload

For many people, the workload increases. That endangers health. Too much stress will make us sick, experts warn. Long working hours are particularly problematic. For years, experts have pointed out that more than 40 working hours per week are harmful to health. What can also be hard on employees is when working hours increase. This has now been shown in a study by researchers from two German universities.

Increased risk especially for women

Those who work too long endanger their health. This increases the risk of stroke, as reported by an international team of researchers.

According to a US study, long hours are a health risk, especially for women. If you work more than 40 hours a week, your risk of heart disease, cancer, arthritis and diabetes increases significantly.

In addition, it becomes problematic for both genders - but also here especially for women - if they have to work longer: If the weekly working time increases by even an hour, it can be difficult for people.

This small growth is sufficient for public servants to rate their own health worse and go to the doctor much more often.

This is the result of a study by scientists from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU), which was recently published in the journal "Labor Economics".

Relationship between working hours and health

The study by German researchers is one of the first to investigate the connection between increasing weekly working hours and the consequences for health.

"Descriptive analyzes often show a positive connection between health and working hours, for example when healthier people work longer," says Prof. Dr. Christoph Wunder from the MLU in a message.

The Halle economist who collaborated with Dr. Kamila Cygan-Rehm from the FAU continued to explain that so far, little is known about the causal effects of increasing working hours on people's health.

“It is empirically very difficult to prove that a longer working time has a causal impact on health, because you have to exclude unobserved factors - for example your inner motivation - which can lead to longer working hours and better health and thus distort the direct causal effect "Said Dr. Kamila Cygan-Rehm from the FAU.

Women and families with young children particularly affected

In order to shed more light on this connection, the scientists evaluated the data from the socio-economic panel from 1985 to 2014.

According to the information, it is the largest and longest-running long-term study, in which more than 12,000 private households have been surveyed at regular intervals about their living conditions for more than 30 years.

The SOEP data, for example, provide information on education, health, income, employment and life satisfaction.

“Since the same people are interviewed for the SOEP every year, it can also be used to trace long-term trends and reactions to external changes such as working hours,” says Wunder.

The two researchers found that an increase of just one hour had significant consequences: the respondents' self-assessed health decreased by two percent, while the number of visits to the doctor increased by 13 percent.

Women and families with young children were particularly affected by these negative effects.

“The effects are probably stronger for these groups because they have very limited time budgets outside of working hours. If working hours increase, the time pressure outside of work also increases, ”said Wunder.

No statements about an optimal working time

According to the communication from the universities, the study only included data from workers from the old federal states who were employed in the public service or worked as civil servants.

“Employees in the public service tend to adopt new regulations for weekly working hours rather than employees in the private sector, who, for example, adjust overtime in the event of a change in collective working hours and can thus keep weekly working hours constant. Public employees have less flexibility here, ”explained Wunder.

In the years 1985 to 1991, the weekly working hours initially fell from 40 to 38.5 hours. Later it rose again in Bavaria and Hesse for civil servants up to 42 hours a week. These strong fluctuations did not occur in the new federal states.

Although no conclusions can be drawn from the study about an optimal working time, it does give an insight into the consequences of a small change. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: What Happens To Your Body And Brain If You Dont Get Sleep. The Human Body (June 2022).


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