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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.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3582.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3582
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  1. 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.
  2. Di Tella, Rafael & Alesina, Alberto & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," Scholarly Articles 4553007, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  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. Barbara Petrongolo, 2004. "Gender Segregation in Employment Contracts," CEP Discussion Papers dp0637, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Keith A. Bender & John S. Heywood, 2006. "Job Satisfaction Of The Highly Educated: The Role Of Gender, Academic Tenure, And Earnings," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 53(2), pages 253-279, 05.
  8. 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 C208-C227, 03.
  9. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 1999. "The Changing Distribution of Job Satisfaction," IZA Discussion Papers 42, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  11. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1994. "Satisfaction and comparison income," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9408, CEPREMAP.
  12. Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "What Has Been Happening to the Quality of Workers’ Lives in Britain?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 617, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  13. 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.
  14. Michael Rose, 2005. "Job Satisfaction in Britain: Coping with Complexity," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(3), pages 455-467, 09.
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