According to a recent study conducted by researchers from Harvard University and Stanford University, Americans are losing years off their lives because of stressful work environments. Some groups are losing up to three years of living because of stress at work.
Life expectancy varies throughout the United States. People living in areas with the highest life expectancies in the country are expected to live up to 33 years longer than people living in the areas with the lowest life expectancies.
Additionally, there are also major differences in life expectancies for people with differing socioeconomic backgrounds.
Meanwhile, such gaps appear to be growing further apart. Wealthier Americans have been extending their life expectancies, while other groups remain stagnant in this regard.
According to one study, people who have not received a high school diploma have life expectancies that are similar to those of average adults in the 1950s and 60s. This shows that economic gains of the past few decades have mostly gone to people with higher levels of education.
There are many causes for people of lower socioeconomic backgrounds to have lower life expectancies than people of higher socioeconomic backgrounds. People with lower incomes and lower level of education have a reduced access to healthcare, and they are more likely to be exposed to pollution and engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and drinking. Also, wealthier people can typically afford healthier foods than disadvantaged people.
As for the recent study, it was one of the first to focus on life expectancy with such a heavy focus on job life. While other factors such as race, gender and education level were also considered, workplace environment was the primary variable.
The study examined factors such as layoff rates, the presence of health insurance, shift times and durations, job security and family-work conflict. As one might expect, people with less education were shown to be more likely to end up in jobs with unhealthy workplace practices. Such practices can drastically reduce an individual’s lifespan.
Additionally, whites were shown to lose fewer years from workplace stress than blacks and Hispanics. The study also found that men were more likely to experience reductions in lifespan from workplace stress than women.
As for the workplace environment factors themselves, layoff rates and the presence of health insurance were found to have the largest influence on workplace stress.
The researchers reached the conclusion that it is critical to start focusing on ensuring that workplace environments are made as healthy as possible. Doing so would most likely lead to increases in the lifespan of Americans.