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Employment and Life-Satisfaction: Insights from Ireland


  • Finbarr Brereton

    (University College Dublin)

  • J. Peter Clinch

    (University College Dublin)

  • Susana Ferreira

    (University College Dublin)


Mainstream neoclassical economics takes it as given that the consumption of goods and services (output) is positively related to well-being. Work (labour-input) is assumed to be negatively related to well-being at the margin and so is only undertaken in exchange for payment. This view has been challenged for decades in the psychology and sociology literature and results suggests that employment status (especially unemployment) has profound effects on well-being, even at the margin. It is surprising then that several labour force status categories have been under researched in the literature to date. In this paper, using a sample of Irish adults carried out in 2001, we extend the current literature to examine the impacts of additional labour force status categories on life-satisfaction based on International Labour Organisation (ILO) classifications. These include part-time employment, disconnection from the labour force and being disabled, unable to work. Additionally, we expand the analysis of unemployment in the happiness literature and examine if the effects of unemployment and part-time employment on life satisfaction are conditioned by gender. Insights show that being part-time employed has a significant negative effect on life satisfaction, particularly for males. Being unemployed is found to have a significant negative effect on well-being, independent of gender and income, but no such effect is found for the local unemployment rate.

Suggested Citation

  • Finbarr Brereton & J. Peter Clinch & Susana Ferreira, 2008. "Employment and Life-Satisfaction: Insights from Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 39(3), pages 207-234.
  • Handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:39:y:2008:i:3:p:207-234

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Antoci, Angelo & Sabatini, Fabio & Sodini, Mauro, 2012. "The Solaria syndrome: Social capital in a growing hyper-technological economy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 802-814.
    2. Ambrey, Christopher L. & Fleming, Christopher M., 2011. "Valuing Ecosystem Diversity in South East Queensland: A Life Satisfaction Approach," 2011 Conference, August 25-26, 2011, Nelson, New Zealand 115347, New Zealand Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    3. David (David Patrick) Madden, 2012. "The Socioeconomic Determinants of Mental Stress in Ireland," Working Papers 201221, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    4. Young Hoon Lee & Ilhyeok Park, 2010. "Happiness and Physical Activity in Special Populations:Evidence from Korean Survey Data," Working Papers 1002, Research Institute for Market Economy, Sogang University, revised 2010.
    5. Ferdi Botha & Frikkie Booysen, 2013. "The Gold of One’s Ring is Not Far More Precious than the Gold of One’s Heart: Reported Life Satisfaction Among Married and Cohabitating South African Adults," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 433-456, April.
    6. Chang, Hung-Hao & Yen, Steven T., 2011. "Full-time, part-time employment and life satisfaction of the elderly," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 815-823.
    7. Małgorzata Mikucka, 2014. "Does Individualistic Culture Lower the Well-Being of the Unemployed? Evidence from Europe," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 673-691, June.
    8. Dumitru Sandu, 2013. "Mapping out social worlds by states of mind in Europe," Discussion Papers 10, Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI).
    9. Peter Meer, 2014. "Gender, Unemployment and Subjective Well-Being: Why Being Unemployed Is Worse for Men than for Women," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 115(1), pages 23-44, January.
    10. Brendan Walsh & Dermot Walsh, 2011. "Suicide in Ireland: The Influence of Alcohol and Unemployment," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 42(1), pages 27-47.

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