Who Settles For Less At Work? Subjective Dispositions, Job Characteristics, and Job Satisfaction

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:15 AM
Room: Booth 42
Distributed Paper
Francisco PERALES , The University of Queensland, Australia
Wojtek TOMASZEWSKI , The University of Queensland, Australia
In recent years there has been growing interest in individuals’ self-perceptions of their wellbeing on the grounds that these complement well-established objective indicators of welfare. Wellbeing in relation to work, captured for instance by measures of job satisfaction, has not been an exception. The discourse on work in post-industrial societies has shifted from perceiving labour as a means for subsistence to conceptualising it as an important aspect of individuals’ identity and self-realization. Consequently, the utility people gain from their work has become an important feature of modern working life and subject to increasing academic attention. However, individuals’ assessments of this utility depend on both the objective circumstances that they experience at their jobs and workplaces and their subjective, idiosyncratic dispositions, such as their aspirations, expectations, or personal evaluation criteria. We add to the literature by formulating and testing a modelling strategy that uncovers how the latter subjective dispositions differ across population groups. We do this by estimating a within-job fixed-effects model which, by controlling for all objective characteristics of the job and workplace, enables us to explore how subjective judgements concerning job satisfaction and other work arrangements are made by different types of workers. To achieve this, we use data from a large-scale matched employer-employee dataset from the UK – the 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS). Following reference group and relative deprivation theories, we expect to find significant differences in the way in which individuals with different socio-demographic characteristics rate the same objective working conditions. More specifically, we expect female, young, elderly, and migrant workers to be more satisfied with equal working arrangements than male, middle-aged, and UK-born workers, respectively. Any such findings would have important implications for how subjective evaluations of working arrangements are to be collected and analysed using survey data and used to inform evidence-based policy.