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Unemployment, temporary work and subjective well-being: Gendered effect of spousal labour market insecurity in the United Kingdom


  • Hande Inanc



This paper investigates the extent to which unemployment and temporary work – two forms of labour market insecurity – affect different aspects of subjective well-being (i.e. life satisfaction, psychological well-being and satisfaction with partnership) among legally married and cohabiting couples in the United Kingdom. Drawing on matched data for couples from the British Household Panel Study, the paper shows that both forms of labour market insecurity, when experienced by the male partner, lower significantly the psychological well-being and life satisfaction of the female partner; women’s temporary work also slightly lowers men’s psychological well-being. The impact of spousal labour market insecurity depends, however, on the employment status of the individual: after controlling for financial strain, psychological well-being and life-satisfaction of both partners in a couple are hampered the most when men are economically dependent on their female partners. In the case of partnership satisfaction, results differ from the other two subjective well-being outcomes: while unemployment of the female partner is associated with higher satisfaction for men, partnership satisfaction is particularly low when both partners experience either form of labour market insecurity. These effects are robust after controlling for fixed individual characteristics that can influence both employment status and well-being outcomes. Ce document analyse dans quelle mesure le chômage et le travail temporaire – deux types d’insécurité du marché du travail – influent sur différentes dimensions du bien-être subjectif (satisfaction à l’égard de la vie, bien-être psychologique et satisfaction à l’égard de la vie de couple) des couples au Royaume-Uni, mariés ou non. En s’appuyant sur des données appariées issues de l’enquête British Household Panel Study réalisée auprès des ménages, ce document montre que ces deux exemples de l’insécurité du marché du travail, lorsqu’ils sont vécus, au sein du couple, par l’homme, ont un effet négatif sensible sur le bien-être psychologique et la satisfaction à l’égard de la vie de la femme ; le travail temporaire des femmes a également un effet légèrement négatif sur le bien-être psychologique des hommes. L’impact de l’insécurité du marché du travail sur le couple dépend toutefois de la situation au regard de l’emploi de chacun de ses membres : après prise en compte des difficultés financières, c’est la dépendance économique de l’homme par rapport à la femme qui pèse le plus fortement sur le bien-être psychologique et la satisfaction à l’égard de la vie des deux conjoints. S’agissant de la satisfaction à l’égard de la vie de couple, les résultats divergent par rapport aux deux autres dimensions du bien-être subjectif : si le chômage de la femme est associé à une plus grande satisfaction à l’égard de la vie chez les hommes, la satisfaction à l’égard de la vie de couple est particulièrement faible lorsque les deux conjoints sont touchés soit par le chômage soit par le travail temporaire. Ces effets persistent après prise en compte des caractéristiques individuelles fixes susceptibles d’influencer la situation au regard de l’emploi et le bien-être.

Suggested Citation

  • Hande Inanc, 2016. "Unemployment, temporary work and subjective well-being: Gendered effect of spousal labour market insecurity in the United Kingdom," OECD Statistics Working Papers 2016/4, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:stdaaa:2016/4-en

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