Good Job, Good Life? Working Conditions and Quality of Life in Europe

Sonja Drobnic*, Barbara Beham, Patrick Prag, S. Drobnič, Patrick Prag

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-225
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2010


  • Job quality
  • Life satisfaction
  • Quality of life
  • Europe
  • Cross-national comparison
  • TIME
  • VS.

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