Monday, June 11, 2012

Union members live longer

And a new study proves we live longer.

Called "Bringing You More Than the Weekend: Union Membership and Self-rated Health in the United States," it's kind of long and boring. We offer a summary of the highlights and a translation:

It looked at people's health from 1973-2006 and found:

  • In well-specified models, union membership has a significant positive effect on favorable self-rated health. The effect roughly offsets the effects of five years of aging or being divorced (as opposed to married). (Translation: Union membership improves your health and adds five years to your life.)
  • Income stands out as a likely mediator between unions and health. Income influences health via stress (Kahn and Pearlin 2006; Turner et al. 1995), envi- ronmental risk exposure (e.g., waste, toxins, pollutants, poor water and housing qual- ity, and overcrowding) (Evans and Kantrowitz 2002), and neighborhood disorder (Ross and Mirowsky 2009). (Translation: Union members make more money so they're less stressed out and live in safer neighborhoods.)
  • Lack of health insurance is correlated with a range of adverse health conditions (Hadley 2003) as well as increased mortality across all socioeconomic groups (Franks et al. 1993). Therefore, it is potentially important that union members’ health benefits are, on average, more generous and more affordable than the benefits available to non-members. (Translation: Union members have better health benefits so they're healthier.)
  • Work-related deaths are the eighth leading cause of death in the United States (Steenland et al. 2003). There is evidence that unions are associated with more effective workplace health and safety committees (Nichols, Walters and Tasiran 2007), stricter enforcement of Occupational Safety and Health Agency regulations (Weil 1991), and higher safety performance among workers (Dedobbeleer et al. 1990). (Translation: Unions make workplaces safer.)