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

  • Gardner, Jonathan
  • Oswald, Andrew J.

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.

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File URL: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/workingpapers/2008/twerp617.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Warwick, Department of Economics in its series The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) with number 617.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:617
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Web page: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/

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  1. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Oswald, Andrew, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  5. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2001. "Identifying Welfare Effects from Subjective Questions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(271), pages 335-57, August.
  6. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  7. 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.
  8. R Disney & A Gosling & Stephen Machin, 1993. "What has Happened to Union Recognition in Britain?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0130, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. Richard B. Freeman, 1977. "Job Satisfaction as an Economic Variable," NBER Working Papers 0225, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-50, December.
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