A Narrative Review: Understanding How Employment Context Influences the Occupational Health and Well-Being of Older Workers in Low-Wage Jobs

  • Jennifer E. SwanbergEmail author
  • Lily Scheindlin
  • Gail Betz
  • Aya Zouhri


Much of the literature on aging and work addresses the concerns of workers in professional occupations at the exclusion of the concerns of older workers employed in low-wage occupations. Little is known about the socio-demographics of the older low-wage workforce or the effects of low-wage employment conditions on the occupational health and well-being of older workers. This chapter addresses this gap in knowledge by using data from the Urban Institute’s report, Occupational Projections for Low-Income Older Workers, Assessing the Skill Gap for Workers Age 50 and Older, to describe the demographic, occupational, and industry characteristics of older low-income workers and by conducting a narrative review that examines the current literature to further our understanding of how low-wage employment may impact the occupational health and well-being of this working population. A comprehensive search identified ten articles. Results indicate that dimensions of the work environment—notably perceived age-related discrimination, on-the-job learning opportunities, and social relationships at work, as well as job conditions such as physical job demands, decision authority, and low wages—present a unique set of challenges and opportunities for low-wage earning workers. Areas for future research on creating an age-friendly workplace are discussed.


Older workers Low-wage work Low-wage jobs Aging 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer E. Swanberg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lily Scheindlin
    • 2
    • 3
  • Gail Betz
    • 4
  • Aya Zouhri
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Professional StudiesProvidence CollegeProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Masters in Public Policy ProgramThe Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis UniversityWalthamUSA
  4. 4.Health Sciences and Human Services LibraryUniversity of MarylandBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.University of Maryland School of Social WorkBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.Jackson Park Center, Youth Tutoring ProgramSeattleUSA

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