Essays on the Economics of Sleep Time and Work Stress

Title: Essays on the Economics of Sleep Time and Work Stress
Authors: Sedigh, Golnaz
Date: 2014
Abstract: This thesis consists of three essays on the economics of sleep time and work stress. The first essay, “the impact of economic factors on sleep: the role of insomnia”, discusses the role played by insomnia on the link between economic variables and sleep time. Insomnia is a common phenomenon experienced by many Canadians. This paper uses the Canadian General Social Survey (GSS) 2005 to investigate the effect of economic factors on the sleep time of the labour force. It replicates previous work by Biddle and Hamermesh (1990) and then extends this work to look at the role played by insomnia on the link between economic variables and sleep time. The paper concludes that the presence of sleep problems can significantly change the impact of economic determinants such as wage and education on sleep time. This paper finds that a 10 percent increase in the wage rate decreases sleep time by almost 20 minutes per week for non-insomniacs while an increase in the wage rate does not have any impact on sleep time for insomniacs. In fact, the link between wage and sleep time appears to be broken for insomniacs as they do not want to, or cannot, sacrifice their sleep time in order to have more money in their pockets. The second essay, “sleep time and wages: the role of chronic diseases and work environment”, examines the role played by chronic diseases and work environment on the link between economic variables and sleep time. This paper, which expands on the work of the first essay, uses the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2001 to investigate the roles of insomnia, chronic diseases and stressful work environments on the link between the wage rate and sleep time. Whereas Biddle and Hamermesh (1990) report that individuals sleep 14 minutes less per week as a result of a 10% increase in the wage rate, I find that this number increases to 30 minutes for individuals without sleep problems while it is zero for insomniacs. Moreover, the impact of wages on sleep time is even more pronounced – more than 60 minutes per week - once account is taken of health conditions and of the work environment. Interestingly, these health and environmental effects are in addition to their impact on insomnia: in other words, individuals with chronic health problems who are not insomniacs do not respond to an increase in the wage rate by reducing their sleep time. This means that the actual impact of wages on sleep time for those who do not suffer from these conditions is much more important than originally reported by Biddle and Hamermesh (1990). The third essay, “are Québecers more stressed out at work than others? An investigation into the differences between Québec and the Rest of Canada in the level of work stress” discusses the level of stress experienced by workers in Canada. Work stress has a large socio-economic impact: it affects worker absenteeism, productivity, and family life. Psychological health problems including stress at workplace are an important issue in Canada. Using nine cycles spanning twelve years of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), I find that the level of work stress in Québec is much higher than in any other province. In Québec, 40% of the population report having quite a bit or extremely stressful jobs. In the other provinces, this number is much smaller, in the order of 30% in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia, and even lower in the Atlantic Provinces. I find that Québec still has a higher level of reported work stress even after controlling for the main determinants of work stress: income, education, health, age, gender, marital status, children and work environment. Unionization rate and unemployment rate in the province do not seem to matter. However, I find that immigrants in Québec have less work stress than native-born Francophones. Also, Francophones in Québec and elsewhere have higher levels of work stress than Anglophones and Allophones. A body of literature has examined the subject of work stress, and while it has been noted by a few authors (Bordeleau and Traoré, 2007 and Lesage et al., 2010) that Québec is different; a thorough analysis of the causes of this phenomenon needs to be done. This paper estimates regression models that include a large number of factors such as age, gender, marital status, census metropolitan area (CMA), urban, immigrants, having young children, household type, living arrangement, mother tongue, language of conversation, race, education, income, working hours, part time job, health, physical activity, type of smoker, type of drinker, sense of belonging to community, provincial unionization rate and provincial unemployment rate to examine why there may be a consistent and persistent different between those who reside in Québec relative to the rest of Canada. I find that, even after controlling for those factors, work stress is still higher in Québec. This study suggests that differences in the legal systems and in cultures may be some of the reasons of the differences between Québec and the rest of Canada.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -