Working for pay is good for women's health. That's what 20 years of data on roughly 5000 women showed. Women who regularly worked for pay reported fewer problems with their physical health and symptoms of depression as they aged compared to women who didn't work for pay. They also had more than a 25 percent lower risk of having died by 2012.
The data came from the National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women in the U.S. The survey began in 1967 with about 5,100 women, aged 30 to 44, and followed the women until they were between 66 and 80 years old. Jennifer Caputo from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and her coauthors from Indiana and Penn State Universities found that women who received a paycheck for work during the prime of their midlife were healthier than their peers who did not work outside the home.
Even with a job she didn't like, or consistently negative experiences such as harassment or discrimination on the job, working women were still healthier, though these stressors did take a toll. “Many women in this study went to work in low-status or traditionally male-dominated fields,” said Caputo, in a statement. “It is perhaps especially telling that despite these less equitable conditions, they were healthier later in life than women who didn't work outside the home.”
“ …[W]omen's health is benefitted by being employed, regardless of their economic situation and even if they don't always have the best working experiences.”
“Our findings support the conclusion that women's health is benefitted by being employed, regardless of their economic situation and even if they don't always have the best working experiences,” says Caputo.
“For the first time we were able to show a positive long-term relationship between working at midlife and health over many following years, even past the age of retirement.”
The study is published in Demography.