The working poor and stress

Zuzana Řimnáčová, Alena Kajanová, Stanislav Ondrášek
University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Institute of Social and Special-paedagogical Sciences, České Budějovice, Czech Republic

Korespondenční autor: Zuzana Řimnáčová (

ISSN 1804-7181 (On-line)

Full verze:
Full version

Submitted:10. 10. 2018
Accepted: 25. 10. 2018
Published online: 31. 12. 2018


Introduction: The working poor is a relatively new term which has been discussed recently. These people work, but their income is below the poverty line. Many times, it is close to the minimum wage. Working for a low income brings people much stress, which leads to physical and psychological problems. Materials and methods: This research was carried out using quantitative research strategies. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory standardized questionnaire was used for data collection. Their statistical analysis was carried out using the IBM SPSS Statistics 24 programme. The sample group included 358 working poor inhabitants of the South Bohemian Region. Results: The research showed that the respondents’ average score was between 150 and 300 points. There were 138, which means that, in the next two years, there is a 50% chance that they will have various health problems. The score of 90 respondents was higher than 300 points, which means that they have an 80% chance of having health problems in two years time. The fourth most frequent cause of stress was the possibility of “employment change”. Conclusion: It is very important to study stress and its effect on people. Many studies show how stress can negatively affect us and our health and how great a burden in life it can be. Our research showed that, last year, one-third of the respondents believed that one of the most stressful situations was the change or loss of employment.

Keywords: Physical problems; Psychological problems; Stress; Poor; Working poor


1. A profile of the working poor, 2015 (2017). In: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Washington: The Economics Daily. [online] [cit. 2018–07–07]. Available from: working-poor/2015/home.htm

2. Alkire S, Conconi A, Seth S (2014). Multidimensional Poverty Index 2014: Brief methodological note and results. University of Oxford.

3. Andress H-J, Lohmann H (2008). The working poor in Europe employment, poverty and globalisation. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Pub.

4. Bhatia V, Tandon RK (2005). Stress and the gastrointestinal tract. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 20(3): 332–339. DOI: 10.1111/j.1440–1746.2004.03508.x.

5. Brázdilová M (2016). Chudoba postihuje i zaměstnané [Poverty affects the employed as well]. Statistika a my 6(7–8): 22–21 (Czech).

6. Český statistický úřad (2017). Příjmovou chudobou byl vloni ohrožen téměř každý desátý Čech [Almost every tenth Czech was in a risk of income poverty]. [online] [cit. 2018–07–07]. Available from: https://…-desaty-cech (Czech).

7. Český statistický úřad (2018). Příjmová chudoba ohrožuje 9,1 % Čechů [Income poverty threatens 9.1% of Czechs]. [online] [cit. 2018–07–06]. Available from:…jmovachudoba- ohrozuje-91-cechu (Czech).

8. Devylder JE, Koyanagi A, Unick J, Oh H, Nam B, Stickley A (2016). Stress Sensitivity and Psychotic Experiences in 39 Low – and Middle-Income Countries. Schizophr Bull 42(6): 1353–1362. DOI: 10.1093/schbul­/sbw044.

9. Dilmaghani M (2017). Financial unhealthiness predicts worse health outcomes: evidence from a sample of working Canadians. Public Health 144(1): 32–41. DOI: 10.1016/j.puhe­.2016.11.016.

10. Dimsdale JE (2008). Psychological stress and cardiovascular disease. J Am Coll Cardiol 51(13): 1237– 1246. DOI: 10.1016/j.jac­c.2007.12.024.

11. EUROSTAT (2017). Statistika příjmového rozdělení [Income poverty statistics]. [online] [cit. 2018– 07–06]. Available from:…ed/index.php?… poverty_statis­tics/cs&oldid=400578 (Czech).

12. EUROSTAT (2018). In-work at-risk-of-poverty rate by sex. EU-SILC survey. [online] [cit. 2018–07– 06]. Available from:…… 1&pcode=tesov110&lan­guage=en

13. Folkman S (2013). Stress: Appraisal and Coping. In: Gellman MD, Turner JR (Eds.). Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. New York: Springer.

14. Grandner MA (2017). Sleep, Health and Society. Sleep Med Clin 12(1): 1–22. DOI: 10.1016/j. jsmc.2016.10.012.

15. Han KS, Kim L, Shim I (2012). Stress and sleep disorders. Exp Neurobiol 21(4): 141–150. DOI: 10.5607/ en.2012.21.4.141.

16. Kivimäki M, Leino-Arjas P, Luukkonen R, Riihimäi H, Vahtera J, Kirjonen J (2002). Work stress and risk of cardiovascular mortality: prospective cohort study of industrial employees. BMJ 325(7369): 857. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.325­.7369.857.

17. Kukla L (2016). Sociální a preventivní pediatrie v současném pojetí [Current concept of social and preventive pediatrics]. Praha: Grada.

18. Laraia BA, Leak TM, Tester JM, Leung CW (2017). Biobehavioral Factors That Shape Nutrition in Low-Income Populations: A Narrative Review. Am J Prev Med 52(2): 118–126. DOI: 10.1016/j. amepre.2016.08.003.

19. McIntyre L, Bartoo AC, Emery JC (2014). When working is not enough: food insecurity in the Canadian labour force. Public Health Nutr 17(1): 49–57. DOI: 10.1017/S13689­80012004053.

20. Michálek A, Veselovská Z (2012). Vplyv chudoby na morbiditu a mortalitu vybraných skupín chorôb na Slovensku [The impact of poverty on the morbidity and mortality of selected groups of diseases in Slovakia]. Geographia Cassoviensis 6(2): 124–130 (Slovak).

21. Michalos AC (2014). Encyclopedia of quality of life and well-being research. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

22. Möller-Leimkühler AM (2007). Gender differences in cardiovascular disease and comorbid depression. Dialogues Clin Neurosci 9(1): 71–84.

23. Nixon AE, Mazzola JJ, Bauer J, Krueger JR, Spector PE (2011). Canwork make you sick? A metaanalysis of the relationships between job stressors and physical symptoms. Work and Stress 25(1): 1–22. DOI: 10.1080/026783­73.2011.569175.

24. O’Doherty C (2017). ESRI: Vulnerablegroups more likely to remain in poverty. Irish Examiner. [online] [cit. 2018–07–07]. Available from:…erablegroups- more-likely-to-remain-in-poverty-464057.html

25. Partinen M. (1994). Sleepdisorders and stress. J Psychosom Res 38: 89–91. DOI: 10.1016/0022– 3999(94)90139–2.

26. Radstaak M, Geurts SA, Beckers DG, Brosschot JF, Kompier MA (2014). Work Stressors, Perseverative Cognition and Objective Sleep Quality: A Longitudinal Study among Dutch Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Pilots. J Occup Health 56(6): 469–477. DOI: 10.1539/joh.14–0118-OA.

27. Ravallion M, Shaohua Ch, Sangraula P (2009). Dollar a day The World Bank Economic Review, 23(2): 163–184. DOI: 10.10933/wber/­lhp007.

28. Reeves A, Clair A, McKee M, Stuckler D (2016). Reductions in the United Kingdom’s Gover­nment Housing Benefit and Symptoms of Depression in Low-Income Households. Am J Epidemiol 184(16): 421–429. DOI: 10.1093/aje/kww055.

29. Ross CE, Mirowski J (1979). A comparison of life event weighting schemes: Change, undesirability, and effect proportional indices. J Health Soc Behav 20: 166–177. DOI: 10.2307/2136437.

30. Rous Z (2013). Prekariát [Precariat]. Britské listy. [online] [cit. 2018–07–06]. Available from: http://­.html (Czech).

31. Rynell A (2008). Causes of Poverty: Findings from Recent Research. The Heartland Alliance, Mid- America Institute on Poverty.

32. Řimnáčová Z, Kajanová A (2016). The working poor: Survey study. J Nurs Soc Stud Public Health 3–4: 149–155.

33. Selye H (1973). The Evolution of the Stress Concept: The originator of the concept traces its development from the discovery in 1936 of the alarm reaction to modern therapeutic applications of syntoxic and catatoxic hormones. American Scientist 61(6): 692–699.

34. Sirovátka T, Mareš P (2006). Chudoba, deprivace, sociální vyloučení: nezaměstnaní a pracující chudí [Poverty, deprivation and social exclusion: the unemployed and the working poor]. Sociologický časopis 42(4): 627–655 (Czech).

35. Standing G (2008). Economic Insecurity and Global Casualisation: Threator Promise? Social Indicators Research. 88(1): 15–30. DOI: 10.1007/s11205–007–9202–7.

36. Standing G (2011). The Precariat The New Dangerous Class. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 198 p.

37. Steptoe A, Kivimäki M (2012). Stress and cardiovascular disease. Nat Rev Cardiol 9(6): 360. DOI: 10.1038/nrcar­dio.2012.45.

38. Strengmann-Kuhn W (2002). Working Poor in Europe: A Partial Basis Income for Workers? Geneva: International Labour Office. [online] [cit. 2018–07–06]. Available from: papers.cfm?ab­stract_id=386540

39. The American Institute of Stress (2018). The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory. [online] [cit. 2018–07– 06]. Available from:…s-inventory/

40. Van Reeth O, Weibel L, Spiegel K, Leproult R, Dugovic C, Maccari S (2000). Physiology of sleep (review) – interactions between stress and sleep: from basic research to clinical situations. Sleep Medicine Reviews 4(2): 201–219. DOI: 10.1053/smrv.1999­.0097.

41. Vosko LF (2011). Managing the Margins: Gender, Citizenship, and the International Regulation of Precarious Employment. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 330 p.

42. Wilkinson R, Marmot M (2003). Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts, 2nd edition. Copenhagen: World Health Organization, 31 p.