Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research

No 3/2018: Class-specific gender gaps in musculoskeletal pain: Sweden 1974-2010.Have gender differences in pain changed over time and equally in all social classes?

Sara Kjellsson
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Sara Kjellsson: Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, Postal: SOFI, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: This study focuses on gender differences in working conditions and musculoskeletal pain without assuming gender differences to be general across socioeconomic classes. Using repeated cross-sections from the Swedish Level of Living Survey (LNU), the aim is to i) describe class-specific gender differences in working conditions and musculoskeletal pain in Sweden between 1974 and 2010 and ii) to assess whether class-specific gender differences in musculoskeletal pain over time can be accounted for by working conditions. The sample consists of employed men and women aged 25-64, with sample sizes in each cross-section ranging from 2,329 respondents in 2010 to 2,925 respondents in 1991. Musculoskeletal pain is measured as pain experienced in the neck and shoulders; back, hips and sciatica; or joints. For working conditions, seven dummy variables for physical and psychosocial conditions, one for part-time employment, and a continuous variable for weekly work hours are used. Cross-sectional descriptive data show the class and gender structure of working conditions and musculoskeletal pain during the time period studied. Furthermore, class-separate linear probability models (LPM), including inter-action terms between gender and survey year, are estimated to investigate class-specific trends. The results indicate class-specific gender gaps in pain and their development over time; however, working conditions do not account for these to any large extent. Four hypotheses are formulated and partially supported. The gender gap in pain is larger among non-manual employees than the working class (supports H1). Physical conditions contribute to the gender gap among intermediate non-manuals (partially supports H2). The gender gap increases among assistant and high non-manuals but shows greater stability within the working class (partially supports H3). Hypothesis 4 assumes increasing gender gaps within all classes and is rejected. Generally, it is found that the explanatory value of working conditions for gender differences in musculoskeletal pain does not change over time in any of the classes. Hence, the results indicate that with regard to the mechanisms behind these class-specific gender gaps and their development over time, we must look beyond the working conditions investigated here.

Keywords: Class; gender; musculoskeletal pain; working conditions; Sweden

39 pages, March 9, 2018

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