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Am J Ind Med. 2010 Apr;53(4):417-24. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20781.

Extending a model of precarious employment: A qualitative study of immigrant workers in Spain.

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Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Occupational Health Research Unit, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, CIBER Epidemiology and Public Health, Barcelona, Spain.



Since the 1980s, changes in the labor market have modified power relations between capital and labor, leading to greater levels of precarious employment among workers. Globalization has led to a growth in migration, as people leave their countries in search of work. We aimed to describe the dimensions of precarious employment for immigrant workers in Spain.


Qualitative study using analytic induction. Criterion sampling was used to recruit 129 immigrant workers in Spain with documented and undocumented administrative status. Data quality was ensured by triangulation.


Immigrant workers reported that precarious employment is characterized by high job instability, a lack of power for negotiating employment conditions, and defenselessness against high labor demands. They described insufficient wages, long working hours, limited social benefits, and difficulty in exercising their rights. Undocumented workers reported greater defenselessness and worse employment conditions.


This study allowed us to describe the dimensions of precarious employment in immigrant workers.

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