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What Has Been Happening to the Quality of Workers’ Lives in Britain?

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  • Gardner, Jonathan
  • Oswald, Andrew J.

Abstract

This paper studies workers’ lives in modern Britain. It uses longitudinal data to examine stress and job satisfaction through the decade of the 1990s. The results are disturbing. On both measures, the wellbeing of British public sector workers worsened sharply over the decade. The size of the deterioration was between one half point and one full point on a standard GHQ mental stress scale. This is remarkably large. Stress levels among private sector employees also rose. Job satisfaction in the private sector ran approximately flat through time. These findings may be of interest to nations who are thinking of adopting the British government’s policies towards the public sector, and to those who have conjectured that working life is becoming more pressurised.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:617
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    File URL: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/workingpapers/2008/twerp617.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Freeman, Richard B, 1978. "Job Satisfaction as an Economic Variable," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 135-141, May.
    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. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-1831, November.
    4. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
    5. Blackaby, D. H. & Murphy, P. D. & O'Leary, N. C., 1999. "The payment of public sector workers in the UK: reconciliation with North American findings," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 239-243, November.
    6. Disney, Richard & Gosling, Amanda & Machin, Stephen, 1996. "What Has Happened to Union Recognition in Britain?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(249), pages 1-18, February.
    7. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-750, December.
    8. Richard Disney & Amanda Gosling, 1998. "Does it pay to work in the public sector?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 19(4), pages 347-374, November.
    9. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-484, July.
    10. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2001. "Identifying Welfare Effects from Subjective Questions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(271), pages 335-357, August.
    11. Gregory, Robert G. & Borland, Jeff, 1999. "Recent developments in public sector labor markets," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 53, pages 3573-3630 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. McCausland, David & Pouliakas, Konstantinos & Theodossiou, Ioannis, 2005. "Some are Punished and Some are Rewarded: A Study of the Impact of Performance Pay on Job Satisfaction," MPRA Paper 14243, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Andrew E. Clark, 2005. "Your Money or Your Life: Changing Job Quality in OECD Countries," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(3), pages 377-400, September.
    3. Pouliakas, Konstantinos, 2008. "Pay enough, don’t pay too much or don’t pay at all? An empirical study of the non-monotonic impact of incentives on job satisfaction," MPRA Paper 10031, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. 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.
    5. Heather Dickey & Verity Watson & Alexandros Zangelidis, 2011. "Job satisfaction and quit intentions of offshore workers in the UK North Sea oil and gas industry," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 58(5), pages 607-633, November.
    6. Theodossiou, I. & Vasileiou, E., 2007. "Making the risk of job loss a way of life: Does it affect job satisfaction?," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 71-83, June.
    7. Kenneth Scheve & Matthew Slaughter, 2002. "Economic Insecurity and the Globalization of Production," NBER Working Papers 9339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Theodossiou, I. & Zangelidis, A., 2009. "Career prospects and tenure-job satisfaction profiles: Evidence from panel data," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 648-657, August.
    9. 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).
    10. Ricardo Pagán & Miguel Malo, 2009. "Job satisfaction and disability: lower expectations about jobs or a matter of health?," Spanish Economic Review, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 51-74, March.

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