Health, work, and contributing factors on life satisfaction: A study in Norway before and during the COVID-19 pandemic
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: The COVID-19 outbreak has posed considerable challenges for people’s health, work situations and life satisfaction. This article reports on a study of the relationship between self-reported health and life satisfaction before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in Norway, and examines the role of work in explaining the health–life satisfaction relationship. Method: The study was based on survey data collected from 3185 Norwegian employees in 2019 and 3002 employees in 2020. Propensity score matching techniques were used to assess the mediating effects of work situations and income loss on the health–life satisfaction relationship. Skew-t regression models were further applied to estimate changes in life satisfaction before and during the pandemic, as well as to explore different underlying mechanisms for the health–life satisfaction association. Results: The study found a negative association between ill health and life satisfaction. Compared to the healthy population, people with poor health were more likely to experience worsened work situations. A negative work situation is further associated with lower life satisfaction, and the pandemic aggravated life satisfaction for those who had worsened work situations. When exploring central contributing factors for life satisfaction, we found that health-related risks and work-life balance played predominant roles in predicting life satisfaction before the pandemic, while different types of household structure were among the most important predictors of life satisfaction during the pandemic. Conclusion: A reduction in life satisfaction is explained by ill health, but different underlying mechanisms facilitated people’s life satisfaction before and during the pandemic. While work situation and health risks were important predictors for life satisfaction in 2019, worries about more unstable work situations and less access to family support accentuated worsened life satisfaction in 2020. The findings suggest the necessity of labour market interventions that address the security and maintenance of proper and predictable work situations, especially in these more uncertain times.