Sickness absence among migrant and non-migrant care workers in Finland: A register-based follow-up study

Antero Olakivi, Anne Kouvonen, Aki Koskinen, Laura Kemppainen, Lauri Kokkinen, Ari Väänänen

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Abstract

Aims: This study aimed to compare the sickness absence (SA; over 10 days) rates of migrant and non-migrant care workers in Finland. Methods: Two cohorts were randomly sampled from nationwide registers and analysed together in a three-year follow-up design (2011–2013, 2014–2016). The pooled data consisted of 78,476 care workers, of whom 5% had a migrant background. Statistical methods included cross-tabulations and Poisson regression modelling. Results: Thirty-five percent of the Finnish-born care workers had at least one SA during the follow-up. Care workers from the post-2004 EU countries (30%, at least one SA), Russia, the Former Soviet Union and the Balkan states (25%) and the Global South and East (21%) had fewer episodes of SA than the Finnish-born care workers. The two latter groups also had lower SA rates after we controlled for occupation, gender, age, income and region of residence. Care workers from Western Europe and the Global North (36%) had higher SA rates than the Finnish-born care workers. Conclusions: The following explanations were discussed: population-level health differences – migrants from lower-income non-EU countries are generally healthier than the Finnish-born population (due to, e.g., the ‘healthy migrant effect’); discrimination in recruitment and employment – migrants from lower-income non-EU countries need to be healthier than Finnish-born jobseekers to gain employment (in the care sector or more broadly); and sickness presenteeism – migrants from lower-income non-EU countries underuse their right to sickness allowance (due to, e.g., job insecurity). It is likely that these mechanisms affect migrants differently depending on, for example, their countries of origin and social status in Finland.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSCANDINAVIAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • care work
  • follow-up
  • group comparison
  • health care
  • migrants
  • occupational health
  • presenteeism
  • register study
  • Sickness absence
  • social care

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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