IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Yuppie Kvetch? Work-life Conflict and Social Class in Western Europe


  • Frances McGinnity

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

  • Emma Calvert

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))


Recent debates on time-use suggest that there is an inverse relationship between time poverty and income poverty (Aguiar and Hurst, 2007), with Hammermesh and Lee (2007) suggesting much time poverty is ?yuppie kvetch? or ?complaining?. Gershuny (2005) argues that busyness is the ?badge of honour?: being busy is now a positive, privileged position and it is high status people who work long hours and feel busy. Is this also true of work-life conflict? This paper explores the relationship between work-life tension and social inequality, as measured by social class, drawing on evidence from the European Social Survey (2004). To what extent is work-life conflict a problem of the (comparatively) rich and privileged professional/managerial classes, and is this true across European countries? The countries selected offer a range of institutional and policy configurations to maximise variation. Using regression modelling of an index of subjective work-life conflict, we find that in all the countries under study, work-life conflict is higher among professionals than non-professionals. Part of this is explained by the fact that professionals work longer hours and experience more work pressure than other social classes, though the effect remains even after accounting for these factors. Country variation is modest, despite much variation in policies concerning work-life conflict. We consider other explanations of why professionals report higher work-life conflict and the implications of our findings for debates on social inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Frances McGinnity & Emma Calvert, 2008. "Yuppie Kvetch? Work-life Conflict and Social Class in Western Europe," Papers WP239, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp239

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2008
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lundberg, Shelly J, 1985. "Tied Wage-Hours Offers and the Endogeneity of Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(3), pages 405-410, August.
    2. John MacInnes, 2005. "Work-Life Balance and the Demand for Reduction in Working Hours: Evidence from the British Social Attitudes Survey 2002," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(2), pages 273-295, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    work-life balance; social inequality; work pressure; comparative research; Western Europe.;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp239. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sarah Burns). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.