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Job Characteristics, Job Preferences, and Physical and Mental Health in Later Life


Existing research linking SES with work primarily focuses on the precursors (educational attainment) and outcomes (income) of work, rather than asking how diverse facets of work influence health. Using four waves of data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, we evaluate whether multiple measures of respondent job characteristics, respondent preferences for those characteristics, and their interaction substantially improve the fit of sociological models of men's and women's physical and mental health at midlife and old age compared to traditional models using educational attainment, parental SES, and income. We find that non-wage job characteristics predict men's and women's physical and mental health over the lifecourse, although we find little evidence that the degree to which one's job accords with one's job preferences matters for health. These findings expand what we know about how work matters for health, demonstrating how the manner and condition under which one works has lasting impacts on wellbeing.

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