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Work-Life Balance Practices and the Gender Gap in Job Satisfaction in the UK: Evidence from Matched Employer-Employee Data


  • Asadullah, Niaz

    () (University of Malaya)

  • Fernández, Rosa M.

    () (Universidad de Granada)


This paper examines the role of work-life balance practices (WLB) in explaining the “paradox of the contented female worker”. After establishing that females report higher levels of job satisfaction than men in the UK, we test whether firm characteristics such as WLB and gender segregation boost the satisfaction of women proportionately more than that of men, thereby explaining why the former are reportedly happier. The results prove that WLB practices increase the likelihood of reporting higher satisfaction but similarly for both demographic groups thereby reducing the gender gap in job satisfaction only slightly. Still, the results indicate that WLB practices at the forefront of worker welfare policy improve the wellbeing of the workforce. Experiments with firm-fixed effects allowed by the matched dimension of the data reveal that firm effects are relevant but they only explain a half of the gender gap in job satisfaction, suggesting that the other half may be due to individual heterogeneity.

Suggested Citation

  • Asadullah, Niaz & Fernández, Rosa M., 2008. "Work-Life Balance Practices and the Gender Gap in Job Satisfaction in the UK: Evidence from Matched Employer-Employee Data," IZA Discussion Papers 3582, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3582

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Francis Green & Nicholas Tsitsianis, 2004. "Can the Changing Nature of Jobs Account for National Trends in Job Satisfaction?," Studies in Economics 0406, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
    3. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2001. "The Changing Distribution of Job Satisfaction," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 1-30.
    4. Barbara Petrongolo, 2004. "Gender Segregation in Employment Contracts," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 331-345, 04/05.
    5. Groot, Wim & Maassen van den Brink, Henriette, 1999. "Job satisfaction and preference drift1," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 363-367, June.
    6. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    7. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
    8. John M. Evans, 2002. "Work/Family Reconciliation, Gender Wage Equity and Occupational Segregation: The Role of Firms and Public Policy," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(s1), pages 187-216, May.
    9. Keith A. Bender & Susan M. Donohue & John S. Heywood, 2005. "Job satisfaction and gender segregation," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 479-496, July.
    10. Abowd, John M. & Kramarz, Francis, 1999. "The analysis of labor markets using matched employer-employee data," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 40, pages 2629-2710 Elsevier.
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    12. Silvia Pezzini, 2005. "The Effect of Women's Rights on Women's Welfare: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages 208-227, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Florencia Lopez Boo & Lucia Madrigal & Carmen Pages, 2010. "Part-Time Work, Gender and Job Satisfaction: Evidence from a Developing Country," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(9), pages 1543-1571.
    2. Parakandi, Mohammed & Behery, Mohamed, 2016. "Sustainable human resources: Examining the status of organizational work–life balance practices in the United Arab Emirates," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 1370-1379.
    3. Eduardo Lora, 2013. "The Distance between Perception and Reality in the Social Domains of Life," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 4608, Inter-American Development Bank.
    4. Del Bono, Emilia & Vuri, Daniela, 2011. "Job mobility and the gender wage gap in Italy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 130-142, January.

    More about this item


    job satisfaction; work-life balance practices; gender segregation; matched employer-employee data;

    JEL classification:

    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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