Occupational mobility at various stages in the life course may have a cumulative impact on health outcomes and trajectory. This study aims to (1) systematically review empirical evidence regarding the impact of intergenerational and intra-generational occupational mobility on chronic health conditions in middle and later life; and (2) assess the collective evidence on the health consequences of different types of occupational mobility.
A systematic review of literature was carried out by searching three databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, and SocINDEX) and the reference lists. Eligible studies examined the impact of occupational mobility on at least one chronic health condition among adults aged 35 years or above. The quality of each included study was assessed by standardized tools.
Out of 170 identified publications, 16 studies based on 12 independent data sets met the inclusion criteria. There is moderately strong evidence that downward intergenerational occupational mobility and stable low occupational status across generations were associated with worse chronic health conditions. The relationships to chronic health conditions were more pronounced for intergenerational occupational mobility than for intra-generational occupational mobility. Gender differences were observed in the relationship between occupational mobility and health.
Career advancement interventions should target both the career starters and older employees. More generous unemployment insurance systems are suggested in less egalitarian countries, especially during economic recession periods. Future studies of occupational mobility should give more attention to women and people from developing and Eastern countries.