In many countries through the industrial world the population is aging. Despite an increased life expectancy, improved living conditions, and better health status, the average time people spend in paid work is decreasing. There are several mechanisms of withdrawal from the labor force among elderly workers. Workers may leave the work force due to disability, unemployment, and early retirement. Many health problems, work related factors, life styles and individual characteristics are involved with early leaving of the labor force. In recent years, promoting work ability has been considered as an affirmative means to decrease work-related disability and early retirement. The concept of work ability expresses the interrelations between the productive potential of a worker, the worker’s individual characteristics, and physical and psychosocial work related factors. Therefore, assessment of work ability should measure the ability of a worker to perform his/her job, taking into account the specific work-related factors, mental and physical capabilities, and health. The work ability index (WAI), a questionnaire-based method, constructed by Finnish researchers to operationalize the concept of work ability, has been promoted in recent years as a valuable tool in occupational health programs dedicated to decrease an early exit from the work force. The specific objectives of this thesis are: 1) To describe the associations between perceived health and specific diseases with early exit from the work force. 2) To evaluate the relative influence of individual characteristics, health, lifestyle factors, and physical and psychosocial work-related factors on work ability. 3) To investigate the effect of a poor work ability on productivity losses at work.

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J.P. Mackenbach (Johan)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Alavinia, S.M. (2008, June 27). The Effect of Work on Health and Work Ability. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from