The rise of mental health problems, inequality and the role of job strain in Germany

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  • Karin Schuller, Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy
  • ,
  • Felix Weiss

The prevalence of mental health problems among the working population has increased sharply since the turn of the millennium in Germany. Secondary analyses of the BIBB/BAuA employment surveys from 1999, 2006 and 2012 showed that, whereas in 1999 only about 4 to 6% of respondents reported mental health problems, this number had grown to 20% or higher in 2012. In this article, we investigate if this sharp increase in mental health problems, measured in terms of self-reported regular occurrence of four specific indicators during the preceding 12–month period, corresponds to a similar increase in social inequality; how different occupational social classes (European Socioeconomic Classification: ESeC) were affected between 1999 and 2012; and whether increasing job strain (mental strain, rigid work organization, ergonomic strain) can explain the increase in mental health problems among different occupational classes. We analyze job strain in relation to a) the increase in the prevalence of self-reported mental health problems and b) the differential development of these problems within different occupational social classes using a decomposition method. Results confirm an increasing trend of mental health problems. Inequality in mental health has also increased, but only slightly. Different occupational subgroups follow distinct trajectories, with particularly steep increases among social service occupations. Job strain, especially mental strain, increases the frequency of mental health problems, but explains only a minor part of the trend.

TidsskriftMental Health & Prevention
Antal sider6
StatusUdgivet - 2019

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