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Work, Jobs and Well-Being across the Millennium

  • Andrew E. Clark

This paper uses repeated cross-section data ISSP data from 1989, 1997 and 2005 to consider movements in job quality. It is first underlined that not having a job when you want one is a major source of low well-being. Second, job values have remained fairly stable over time, although workers seem to give increasing importance to the more “social” aspects of jobs: useful and helpful jobs. The central finding of the paper is that, following a substantial fall between 1989 and 1997, subjective measures of job quality have mostly bounced back between 1997 and 2005. Overall job satisfaction is higher in 2005 than it was in 1989. Last, the rate of self-employment has been falling gently in ISSP data; even so three to four times as many people say they would prefer to be self-employed than are actually self-employed. As the self-employed are more satisfied than are employees, one consistent interpretation of the above is that the barriers to self-employment have grown in recent years. Ce document exploite des données transversales de l’International Social Science Programme (ISSP) portant sur différentes périodes (1989, 1997 et 2005) pour examiner l’évolution de la qualité des emplois. Dans un premier temps, il est souligné que le fait de ne pas avoir d’emploi quand on le voudrait amoindrit considérablement le sentiment de bien-être. Vient ensuite un constat selon lequel la valeur des emplois est demeurée relativement stable au fil du temps. Pour autant, les travailleurs semblent accorder une importance croissante à la dimension « sociale » de leur emploi, privilégiant des notions d’utilité et de services rendus. La principale conclusion du document est que, après une dégradation significative entre 1989 et 1997, les indicateurs subjectifs de la qualité des emplois se sont pour la plupart redressés entre 1997 et 2005. Le degré de satisfaction global à l’égard du travail est plus élevé en 2005 qu’il ne l’était en 1989. Enfin, dans les données de l’ISSP, le taux d’emploi indépendant a diminué tout doucement. Malgré tout, les individus qui disent préférer cette forme d’activité sont trois à quatre fois plus nombreux que ceux qui exercent réellement à titre indépendant. Comme les travailleurs indépendants sont plus satisfaits de leur emploi que les salariés, on peut logiquement en déduire que les obstacles au travail indépendant ont augmenté ces dernières années.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/225358873078
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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers with number 83.

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Date of creation: 23 Mar 2009
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Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:83-en
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  1. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2003. "Lags and Leads in Life Satisfaction: A Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 371, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. Clark, Andrew, 1993. "Job Satisfaction and Gender. Why are Women so Happy at Work?," Economics Discussion Papers 10015, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  3. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J. & van Landeghem, Bert, 2009. "Imitative Obesity and Relative Utility," IZA Discussion Papers 4010, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Andrew Clark, 2001. "Unemployment As A Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," DELTA Working Papers 2001-17, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  6. Andrew E. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2004. "The (unexpected) structure of "rents" on the French and British labour markets," DELTA Working Papers 2004-06, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  7. Bernard M.S. van Praag & Barbara E. Baarsma, 2004. "Using Happiness Surveys to Value Intangibles: The Case of Airport Noise," CESifo Working Paper Series 1163, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Andrew E. Clark & Andréas Knabe & Steffen Rätzel, 2009. "Unemployment as a Social Norm in Germany," Post-Print halshs-00754675, HAL.
  9. Duncan Gallie, 2005. "Work Pressure in Europe 1996-2001: Trends and Determinants," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(3), pages 351-375, 09.
  10. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
  11. Andrew E. Clark, 2005. "Your Money or Your Life : Changing Job Quality in OECD Countries," Post-Print halshs-00754063, HAL.
  12. Sousa-Poza, Alfonso & Sousa-Poza, Andres A, 2000. "Taking Another Look at the Gender/Job-Satisfaction Paradox," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(2), pages 135-52.
  13. Lucie DAVOINE & Christine ERHEL & Mathilde GUERGOAT-LARIVIERE, 2008. "Monitoring quality in work: European Employment Strategy indicators and beyond," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 147(2-3), pages 163-198, 06.
  14. Blanchflower, D.G. & Oswald, A., 1991. "What Makes an Entrepreneur?," Economics Series Working Papers 99125, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  15. 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.
  16. Platt, Stephen & Micciolo, Rocco & Tansella, Michele, 1992. "Suicide and unemployment in Italy: Description, analysis and interpretation of recent trends," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 34(11), pages 1191-1201, June.
  17. Benesch Christine & Frey Bruno S. & Stutzer Alois, 2010. "TV Channels, Self-Control and Happiness," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-35, September.
  18. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger & David Schkade & Norbert Schwarz & Arthur Stone, 2004. "Toward National Well-Being Accounts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 429-434, May.
  19. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1994. "Satisfaction and comparison income," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9408, CEPREMAP.
  20. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2007. "Are there Geographical Variations in the Psychological Cost of Unemployment in South Africa?," Social Indicators Research- An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 80(3), pages 629-652, February.
  21. Alois Stutzer & Rafael Lalive, 2004. "The Role of Social Work Norms in Job Searching and Subjective Well-Being," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 696-719, 06.
  22. Lucie Davoine & Christine Erhel, 2006. "Monitoring Employment Quality in Europe: European Employment Strategy Indicators and Beyond," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00272015, HAL.
  23. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2006. "Some Uses of Happiness Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-46, Winter.
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