WHO Work Study

May 19, 2021
WHO Work Study

Need A Vacation?

The latest findings from a global study on work, your health and where to draw the line.

The Study:

A new collection of World Health Organization (WHO) survey data collected from 500,000+ workers in 154 countries regarding their work hours. The WHO found:

  • Working 55 hrs/week or more is associated with an est. 35% higher risk of a stroke (vs. working 35-40 hrs/week)
  • Working 55 hrs/week or more is associated with an est. 17% higher risk of dying from coronary heart disease (vs. working 35-40 hrs/week)

The Science:

WHO says longer work hours are hazardous to your health in two main ways:

  • Physiological responses to stress that cause increased release of stress hormones, such as adrenalin and cortisol, which prompt responses by the cardiovascular system such as high blood pressure.
  • Behavioral responses to stress that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, such as alcohol and tobacco intake, inactivity, poor sleep, and an unhealthy diet.

Worth Noting:

  • The vast majority (72%) of deaths occurred among males and those who worked 55 hrs/week or more btwn the ages of 45 to 74 (who died btwn the ages of 60-79).
  • North Korea had the highest death rate due to stroke attributed to long working hours.
  • Egypt, Lebanon, and Ukraine had the highest death rates due to heart disease attributed to long working hours.
  • FYI: Although not listed among the countries most impacted, the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease.

Something To Consider:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the way many people work."

WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says, "Teleworking has become the norm in many industries, often blurring the boundaries between home and work." In order to address the increase in teleworking, WHO recommends dividing hours among workers to ensure no one worker's hours exceed 55 hours per week.

ONE GROUP NOT SPECIFICALLY HIGHLIGHTED IN THE STUDY… stay-at-home moms and working mothers, both groups impacted by the pandemic due to childcare.

One recent survey found the typical work week for stay-at-home moms was around 97 hours a week pre-COVID and is now up to 106 hours.

A separate study in 2018 found that working moms have the equivalent of 2.5 jobs, clocking in an average of 98 hours a week.

Here's the study

How exactly does working long hours cause stroke and heart disease?

Food for thought:

How Much is a Mom Really Worth? The Amount May Surprise You.

Why Stay-At-Home Moms Should Earn A $115,000 Salary

by Jenna Lee,