Occupational stress: evidence from industries affected by COVID-19 in Japan

Xiangdan Piao, Jun Xie, Shunsuke Managi

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: This study provides objective evidence on the impact of COVID-19 based on employee occupational stress reported from 13 different industries, and examines the determinants of employee psychological well-being. As the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue, governments should consider industry-level differences when making support decisions concerning public resource allocation to corporations. However, little evidence exists regarding the differences in occupational stress across industries. Methods: Employee occupational stress data (N = 673,071) was derived from workers in Japan from 2018 to 2020. The sample comprises workers from 13 industries, including civil services, service industry (other), real estate, medical/welfare, wholesale/retail, academic research, and accommodation/restaurant business. A logit model is employed to investigate the differences in employees’ psychological well-being before and during the pandemic. Results: In 2020, 11 out of 12 industries had significantly worse occupational stress compared to employees engaged in civil services. Over 23% of employees from the wholesale/retail and accommodation/restaurant industries were observed as high-stress employees. Improved compensation policies supporting these industries are suggested. In contrast, reduced occupational stress was found among employees in the transportation/postal and information/communication industries. Among the 13 industries, aside from high job demands, tough inter-person relationships in the workplace became the most significant stressors during the pandemic. Conclusions: The results confirm that the pandemic has had a heterogeneous effect on employee occupational stress across industries, thus suggesting that the level of compensation given to different industries during the COVID-19 pandemic should be discussed and approved by the Japanese government. Additionally, support for the wholesale/retail and accommodation/restaurant industries during the pandemic should be improved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1005
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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