Do job characteristics mediate the relationship between SES and health? Evidence from sibling models

Jennie E. Brand, John Robert Warren, Pascale Carayon, Peter Hoonakker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


We focus on physical and psychosocial job characteristics as mediators in the link between education, earnings, and occupational standing and self-assessed overall health, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health problems, and depression. From sociological research on the stratification of employment outcomes, we expect that people with less education also have lower earnings and lower levels of occupational standing, and have more physically and psychosocially demanding jobs. From the occupational stress, ergonomics, and job design literatures, we expect that physically and cognitively demanding jobs and jobs with varying amounts of control are associated with health outcomes. Consequently, we expect to find that job characteristics play an important mediating role in associations between SES and health. To address these hypotheses, we use data on sibling pairs from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. We find support for our hypotheses, although the extent to which job characteristics mediate SES-health relationships varies across health outcomes and by gender.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-253
Number of pages32
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2003 summer meetings of the ISA Research Committee on Social Stratification and Mobility, New York. Generous support for this project has been provided by the National Institute on Aging (R01-AG09775-10 and P01-AG21079-01). Jennie E. Brand was supported by The Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program. We are also grateful to Robert M. Hauser for providing helpful comments and suggestions. This research uses data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 1991, the WLS has been supported principally by the National Institute on Aging (AG-9775 and AG-21079), with additional support from the Vilas Estate Trust, the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A public use file of data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study is available from the Data and Program Library Service, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706 and at . The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors.


  • Education
  • Health disparities
  • Job characteristics
  • SES
  • Sibling resemblance models
  • Work


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