Happiness at work

De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel and Ward, George (2017) Happiness at work. In: Helliwell, John, Layard, Richard and Sachs, Jeffrey, (eds.) World Happiness Report 2017. Sustainable Development Solutions Network, New York, pp. 144-177. ISBN 978-0-9968513-5-0

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Abstract

This chapter investigates the role of work and employment in shaping people’s happiness, and studies how employment status, job type, and workplace characteristics affect subjective well-being. The overwhelming importance of having a job for happiness is evident throughout the analysis, and holds across all of the world’s regions. When considering the world’s population as a whole, people with a job evaluate the quality of their lives much more favorably than those who are unemployed. The clear importance of employment for happiness emphasizes the damage caused by unemployment. As such, this chapter delves further into the dynamics of unemployment to show that individuals’ happiness adapts very little over time to being unemployed and that past spells of unemployment can have a 6 lasting impact even after regaining employment. The data also show that rising unemployment negatively affects everyone, even those still
employed. These results are obtained at the individual level, but they also come through at the macroeconomic level, as national unemployment levels are negatively correlated with average
national well-being across the world. This chapter also considers how happiness relates to the types of job that people do, and finds
that manual labor is systematically correlated with lower levels of happiness. This result holds across all labor-intensive industries such as construction, mining, manufacturing, transport, farming, fishing, and forestry. Finally, the chapter studies job quality by considering how specific workplace characteristics relate to happiness. Beyond the expected finding that those in well-paying jobs are happier and more satisfied with their lives and their jobs, a number of further aspects of people’s jobs are strongly predictive of greater happiness—these include work-life balance, autonomy, variety, job security, social capital, and health and safety risks.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2018 14:33
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2018 14:34
Funders: n/a
URI: http://eureka.sbs.ox.ac.uk/id/eprint/6999

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