Job quality impacts wellbeing more than education, income or gender

29 Apr 2024 11:36 AM

The impact of job quality on wellbeing is of a similar magnitude to that of health, outshining more traditional factors, finds a report co-authored by Professor Francis Green and Dr Sangwoo Lee.

Happy employees at their desks. Credit: bernardbodo via Adobe Stock.

The importance of job quality is more significant than determinants that include education, gender, marital status, parental status, age or household income. 

The findings indicate that job quality tends to significantly influence wellbeing more for men than for women. In Europe, job quality accounted for a 14–19% variation in wellbeing. 

The research was undertaken with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in collaboration with Min Zou (University of Reading) and Ying Zhou (University of Surrey). 

It explored the experiences of employed people in Europe, the United States, Australia and South Korea, covering 39 countries using global survey series that collect data on job quality in these areas. 

The European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) surveyed 28 countries who were EU members at the time, and an additional seven European countries in 2015. The EWCS covered job quality more fully and more recently. South Korea and the USA closely followed the European questionnaire – the American version additionally surveyed respondents twice, in both 2015 and 2018. 

In comparison, the surveys used for Britain (Skills and Employment Survey) and Australia (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) were less comprehensive in covering job quality. 

The research aimed to enhance a lack of existing data and focus on job quality in a way that is geographically extensive. 

The study underscores the need to prioritise job quality in socioeconomic policies, reassess the way it is measured, and support the gathering of evidence around job quality globally.

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