Good Job, Good Life? Working Conditions and Quality of Life in Europe
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Cross-national comparisons generally show large differences in life satisfaction of individuals within and between European countries. This paper addresses the question of whether and how job quality and working conditions contribute to the quality of life of employed populations in nine strategically selected EU countries: Finland, Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, and Bulgaria. Using data from the European Quality of Life Survey 2003, we examine relationships between working conditions and satisfaction with life, as well as whether spillover or segmentation mechanisms better explain the link between work domain and overall life satisfaction. Results show that the level of life satisfaction varies significantly across countries, with higher quality of life in more affluent societies. However, the impact of working conditions on life satisfaction is stronger in Southern and Eastern European countries. Our study suggests that the issue of security, such as security of employment and pay which provides economic security, is the key element that in a straightforward manner affects people’s quality of life. Other working conditions, such as autonomy at work, good career prospects and an interesting job seem to translate into high job satisfaction, which in turn increases life satisfaction indirectly. In general, bad-quality jobs tend to be more ‘effective’ in worsening workers’ perception of their life conditions than good jobs are in improving their quality of life. We discuss the differences in job-related determinants of life satisfaction between the countries and consider theoretical and practical implications of these findings.
KeywordsJob quality Life satisfaction Quality of life Europe Cross-national comparison
This research has been supported in part by the European Commission Sixth Framework Programme Project “Quality of Life in a Changing Europe” (QUALITY), and the Network of Excellence “Reconciling Work and Welfare in Europe” (RECWOWE).
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